Here to return to
IT is natural for men in their extremities to turn to God for help; for it is at such times that man fully realizes his dependence on some higher power. It is indeed strange that mortals should so naturally and universally forget the kindness of the Almighty in those times, and on those occasions, when he is doing the most for them. As men make no note of things done well, as we stop not to praise the bridge that has carried us safe over a thousand times; so we appear to think not and know not of God’s great goodness so long as the path of his mercies lies in the way of our desires. But let disaster come, notwithstanding it is so often unaccountable to us, and we first begin to appeal to him for assistance, and then gradually realize that God has ever been good to us, and the trial we thought a punishment is really a blessing. May Boston soon feel, in her renovated faith, her renewed energy, and in her new and beautiful temples, that the Lord is ever kind, and is as ready now as ever “to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”!
Ministers of the gospel throughout the country took the great fire in Boston either as a text, or as the principal illustration of their sermons, on the sabbath next succeeding the conflagration. It may be interesting for the generations which are to come after us to read some extracts of the sermons preached in Boston and elsewhere on that day. The following condensed reports we take from the daily press of Monday, Nov. 19:
“‘The Burning of Boston, Nov. 9 and 10, 1872,’ was the subject of Rev. Dr. Manning’s discourse in the Old South Chapel, Freeman Place. Dr. Manning selected as his text Job i. 21: ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In opening, he said, ‘The providence of God gives us our theme this morning.’
“Then, referring to the conflagration as one fascinating in general conversation till it wearied, he turned to the aspect of the calamity which belongs to the sanctuary. No doubt this chastisement comes to us for our spiritual profit. We must not be altogether absorbed in our brave plans for rebuilding the city and re-creating our lost wealth. We ought to humble ourselves under the mighty hang of God. There is danger lest we should be prouder than before, — proud of our opportunity to show the world what we can do. The speaker then referred to the moral obligations laid upon us; and his prayer was, that the new demand on our time and energies may not interfere with the higher duties. And here he addressed particularly his own congregation, asking them to see to it, that, whatever else may fail, there be no slackening of zeal and faithfulness. Now, if ever, they must not forsake the assembling of themselves together. His relation to them made their distress very near to him. The services they were engaged in as a society he charged should be kept up. of their meeting-house he spoke particularly, and returned thanks that it is almost unscathed. But it stands on the edge of the crater; it is in the hands of the public authorities: how soon it will be His people’s again cannot be told. The soldiers and policemen have had it; and the pastor and society should not be so ungrateful as to regret their occupancy. If the worshippers are to be driven from it, if it cannot any longer be the place of solemn assemblies, let all thank God for the prospect that it is to be put to no mean or unworthy use. Its history is interwoven with that of the nation: therefore let the nation have it, if it can serve their need better than his people’s. Will it not be a beautiful thing, he asked, that, in the arrangement of a wise God, the house in which all loved to worship should, now that it is wrested from our grasp, become a great public benefit? Its doors, instead of being open on the Lord’s Day only, will be open every day. Every emotion of the human heart is there called into exercise: it is the whole world in miniature: all its activities, interests, and pulsations, for time and eternity, are brought under one roof. He cautioned that his people should insist that it should never be used in a way which might corrupt the public morals, or be contrary to the New-Testament doctrines. The minister traced God’s hand in such afflictions, and pointed out the religious moral. If it be true that the property destroyed was owned by persons who have large resources left, yet multitudes have been thrown out of employment, with no prospects of any thing to do for months to come. But few of these have any thing upon which to subsist till the machinery and appliances of business are again in order. He hoped they would not be unwilling to accept such help as they may need; that the citizens would not discourage the generous wish of other cities. We should not be too proud to be helped. It will do the whole land good to share this burden with us. Those who gratefully accept the aid may show as noble a spirit as those who proffer it. The lesson it teaches us is, how false the judgment which called us rich on account of worldly wealth! The sermon was full of beautiful, consoling thought, and practical suggestion.
“The Rev. W. H. H. Murray preached three sermons during the day; and a sermon on the fire, in Music Hall, in the evening. The hall was crowded to its utmost capacity, several hundred being unable to find seats. Mr. Murray’s text was Rom. v. 3: ‘Knowing that tribulation worketh patience.’ Suffering, he said, was not the exception, but the law, of life; and, from the highest to the lowest, tribulation was common to all. A catastrophe had fallen on Boston of a magnitude almost unparalleled in the history of the world. It was not the first time the city had been afflicted. It was cradled in adversity, and grew up amid dangers; but it had kept the same undaunted heart and persevering spirit. The wealth of Boston has not gone: it had never been gauged by a money value, but consisted in its historic renown, the evidences of taste, the manifestations of culture, the integrity of merchants, the piety and humanity which prevail. New York was entirely different: her energies and ambition converge in Wall Street, and the very blood in her veins is metallic. It was said Boston had lost so many millions; but they were only lost, not destroyed. Boston was a commercial necessity to New England and the country, serving both as a receptacle and an outlet for the accommodations of industry. Every village in New England felt the shock when those warehouses fell, and demands that they be rebuilt. Every class and order of production sends the same cry down to our shores, ‘Live, rebuild, and enlarge your boundaries.’ The generous sympathy of the nation and of the whole civilized world was generously offered; and the only way in which Boston could manifest her wisdom or appreciation was to proceed at once with energy and courage to rebuild the structures and re-establish the industries destroyed by the fire. The heroism the people had displayed was worthy of mention, when men could be flung from opulence to beggary, and give no sign that they felt the shock. A city with such citizens cannot be destroyed. While regretting what was lost, they should be grateful for the homes, the mothers, wives, and children, which remain. Boston was a home. Men go to New York or Chicago as a bee goes to a flower, — to load itself with extracted wealth, then leave: men come to Boston to stay. Boston was perhaps the only American city in America, and her people were homogeneous: their language, their modes of thought, their type of character, even the caste of their countenances, were purely American. They will stand by the city of their birth and love. With the fire the spirit of selfish competition disappeared, and people were learning the true value of wealth. Such is a mere outline of an eloquent sermon well worth publishing entire, if space would permit.
“Rev. W. R. Alger spoke to a crowded audience in Music Hall. His subject was the relation of great calamities to men and God. After remarking the increasing prevalence of casualties of late years, the speaker said it seemed as if only in this way could God take the mind of man from his own pursuits to his Maker. The question would then arise, ‘What, as revealed in the most enlightened minds of to-day, is the relation of the calamities of man to the providence of God?’ Science had done away with many of the early religious ideas of men. After they could direct to their own use the lightning, could they longer consider it the angry bolt of Jove? When they could predict the very moment of an eclipse, could they longer consider it the frown of a god? To put every thing upon chance was a flat contradiction of the teachings of science; to attribute all to God was in contradiction to our own knowledge of a certain power to choose, which we possessed. The laws which pervade all things are but expressions of the will of God, which, when better understood, will clearly explain all that seems doubtful now. Chance is only the name which we give to an unknown cause; and, as all causes have a definite reason, there is really no such thing as chance. It was only a term of accommodation to express what we meant by ignorance of actual facts. The elements were only forms of the expressions of the will and providence of God. Men were set in certain conditions: and, when they conformed to them, all was right; when they did not, calamity comes as a warning When our race was perfected, no man would suffer any thing, because the whole of mankind would, by their knowledge, be his guard. Without these warnings we could have no inducement to act, as we would see no reason for our action. This would overthrow all the system of our progression. It was the duty of men to study the causes of calamities, and the remedies for them. A peasant once tried to see how far he could lean over a precipice without falling, and finally lay dead on the rocks below. One man would say it was the result of carelessness; another, of an incalculable chance; another, the judgment of God on his rashness; another, the action of gravitation: but the truth was, that the will of God, as shown in gravitation, had done the work as the result of a perfect and unchanging law. The whole human race has an indivisible destiny. The destinies of the parts are bound up in the health of the whole. God is incarnate in every man as well as he was in Jesus Christ. Mankind is always suffering, — the just for the unjust, the present for the past. The mission of this suffering is to crush out arrogance and selfishness, and bring all nearer to the truth. When all men have become as brothers, the end of suffering shall come, and earth will be a part of heaven. Let us, then, bear all calamities with a brave heart, knowing that; in his own perfection, God is bringing all things about for the best. Neither let us weep if we are shut out, as were the kings and prophets, from seeing with our own eyes the millennial day. Death is, perhaps, only the opening of a new door to greater knowledge and happiness. It is not the hand of a blind fate or of an angry God which gives us our casualties. They are something to be overborne and carried on as but the present veil, which partially hides the glories of the final consummation of the destinies of our race.
“The Church of the Disciples was very full. The pastor, Rev. James Freeman Clarke, read the extremely appropriate passages commencing with the fifteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation. Mr. Clarke alluded to the great extent of the calamity, the effects of which pervaded the whole country and all classes. He spoke of a widow lady whose all was invested in insurance-stock. With the savings of years, she had ventured on a visit to Europe. Her stock was three hundred per cent above par when she left; and, upon her arrival there, she will learn that it is worthless. The rich feel this disaster first, the poor afterward. The terrible fire means something. To the really religious man it is a message from on high, and speaks in the loudest and most distinct of tones, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ It repeats in a volume what is being. perpetually said in a lower voice. An old negro, whose house, worth a hundred dollars, was burned down while he was saving a poor old woman, exclaimed, ‘If it is His will, it ought to be my pleasure; and it shall be.’ He little thought what a lesson he was teaching to the people of Boston who lost a hundred millions. The mere practical man has been taught a lesson; but the Christian has received two. The former is in regard to physical laws. The Christian, in addition, sees a ladder to heaven, and exclaims, ‘Nearer, my God, to thee.’ Let us not despair, but learn a lesson of prudence. How strange it is, that, in all these centuries, we have not been able to prevent that excellent servant but bad master from occasionally having such fearful sway! Nearly every thing about us is created by its aid; but we have been guilty of the folly of letting it loose to destroy. We have built stately structures of solid stone, and placed upon them fanciful tops to aid in burning them. Our pride has been humbled; we have been taught what to build; we have been shown the uncertainty of riches; we have learned human brotherhood. Capital and labor no longer oppress each other; for the dependence of each has been shown. Boston flew to the aid of its daughter Chicago when in distress; and now the daughter is as prompt to care for the mother.
“After alluding to other lessons of the disaster, speaking of the great cheers that went up in New York when the announcement was made, on the day of the fire, that the fire was at last under control, of the noble reputation that the people of Boston had earned for themselves at this time, the speaker closed with an earnest appeal to his people to do their full share in aiding the sufferers.
“Rev. Dr. Webb, of the Shawmut Congregational Church, preached to a full house from Amos iii. 6: ‘Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?’ After some remarks upon the tremendous loss sustained by our citizens, and a review of the brighter side of affairs, the preacher took up the religious aspect of the matter. Calamities and judgments, he said, are from God. We all say this is the voice of God. It is the instinctive feeling. And he acts through natural laws. We are under a government which embraces the minutest events. Some natural law is violated, and the penalty follows. Combustible roofs, like the grass of the prairie, fed the fire as it flew. Has it not been burned into our souls, that only men wise in foresight, quick to discern, prompt to act, capable of leading in the hour of danger, should be intrusted with the management of the city’s affairs? The penalty for imperfect work or design, as in a ship or a safe, is disaster. This calamity is the work of Providence; but he who lets the matter rest there, without investigation, is a fool. Don’t put pitch and pine in your buildings. The judgments and chastisements of God are for our good. It was never intended that we should have our home in this world: our home is in heaven. We confine our thoughts too much to this life, and we need chastisement to turn them heavenward. God checks and disappoints us that we may seek an inheritance in heaven. We seek to find entire security here. God’s plan is to keep every thing insecure. He would lead us to seek spiritual and heavenly things; and denies us stability here, that we may seek stability and rest in heaven. We should open Our hearts to receive the teachings of our heavenly Father. Let us seek spiritual blessing rather than worldly prosperity.
“The discourse was an earnest, practical consideration of the great calamity viewed in the light of the gospel, full of tender sympathy for all who suffered, hopeful in spirit, and eloquent in presenting the superiority of spiritual over material objects in life.
“At the Somerset-street Baptist Church, Rev. John F. Beckley preached upon the recent calamity from the following text: ‘Every man’s work shall be manifest when the day shall declare it; for it shall be revealed by fire.’ After comparing Boston to Athens, he claimed that the recent conflagration was a warning from God, and demanded an increased faith and love toward him. We had great cause for being thankful that far more serious consequences had not ensued, and that our homes were spared. In this respect it was to be regarded as a correction from Divine Providence, instead of an extinction of all that we prized and cherished. The disaster had revealed many noble traits of character, and selfishness had received a severe rebuke. The speaker touched upon the foolish policy of narrow streets, and the erection of large warehouses with combustible roofs; and said that a disregard of material laws was visited with punishment by a higher power. The crisis through which we had passed was a plea of God for a broader sympathy and love among men, and called for a deeper moral earnestness in the people.
“Dear old Trinity Church! Many tender memories cluster around its smouldering ruins, and its lonely tower brings mingled scenes of joy and sorrow to many minds; but the vital organization, the live church which the granite only symbolized, remains to continue elsewhere the Christian work which for so long a period has centred within the massive walls that crumbled before the flames. The first religious service in which the church has participated since the fire was held yesterday morning in the hall of the Institute of Technology, which was filled to overflowing. The services were conducted by the Rev. Phillips Brooks, rector of the church. He prefaced his remarks by reading portions of the fourth chapter of Isaiah and of the third chapter of First Corinthians, basing his thought upon the words, ‘If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.’ Fire tries not only the works, but the man behind the works. Men were prone to regard the outward work as but the symbol of the inward life. But which was greater, — the disembodied soul, or the unsouled body? The true city was equally clear. None loved so much, or knew their love so well, until after the fire; but there still existed in men’s hearts all that made the city great. The city was not gone; and yet it was hard, even while they felt that it was purer and truer, — it was hard to see the old city gone, though it would be built again better than before. There were tender thoughts associated with its old, crooked streets, where they had played in childhood, and where they made their first entrance into life, and embarked their dearest interests.
These associations had all gone, and they would never see them again. It was not well to shut their eyes to the loss, and especially to such associations of life. To have lived through the war and the fire was worth many a sorrow and trial in order to see the triumph of the spiritual nature over circumstances. They had seen the apparent value pass away, and the real value come up from beneath. One caution was necessary, — not to count this too low. It was easy to say it was the courage of desperation. This was not a fit explanation; for it was disowning the best that God had done for them. God deeply and earnestly sorrowed with them, and they should realize his sympathy. None knew how much they loved the old church before. It seemed glorified by the fire. It had been called dark and gloomy; but then it was grand, glorious, and solemn. It was so wrought in with human sympathy, that it seemed dignified almost with life. It was almost forty-three years to a day since it was consecrated. This was done by the rector, Dr. Gardner, on the 11th of November, 1829; and it was burned on the 10th of November, 1872. It had done a good work in lifting the spiritual life of the city, in consoling sorrow, in giving strength for duty, and courage to face temptations. It never could be forgotten. One week ago, Trinity Church brought to mind the building: now it meant these people, — their hearts and character. Now they had got to live not less than two years without a place of worship: and he begged them not to be dissatisfied, but to stand by the old church and parish; to be true, faithful, hard, and persistent workers for the church. He then desired them to inquire whether it gave reality to the faith which had been taught there; whether it made the doctrines of the mediatorship of Christ, the regeneration of the soul, and eternal life, real. The Monday-morning prayer-meeting, which was established by Bishop Eastburn, and which has been held uninterruptedly for the past fifteen years, will be held for the present in the Sunday-school room of St. Paul’s Church; and the Sunday school of Trinity will be held next Sunday morning at No. 36, Charles Street.
“Whatever Henry Ward Beecher may think as to the small rôle of Providence in the Boston fire, it is evident that Rev. Dr. Bartol considers the great calamity as a direct visitation from on high. The text to his sermon on ‘Boston Now,’ preached in the West Church yesterday, was from Jer. xxvii. 17: ‘Wherefore should this city be laid waste?’ The sermon was a remarkably fine analysis of the influence of a great disaster upon the human mind, an acute essay on the harmony of nature above and beyond any local derangement of the elements; and was, withal, filled with sound, practical suggestion as to improved methods of city building, and a severe invective against the spirit of lawlessness now pervading the country. The conflagration should be considered, not merely as an accident which could be easily repaired, but as a visitation intended to shock the minds of our citizens into a due sense of the undue greed and haste which led to the building of mushroom blocks. The reverend speaker also severely animadverted upon the alleged incapacity of various municipal officials, and said that incompetent individuals were named for and kept in office because the majority of prominent men did not take the proper interest in politics. A criminal negligence and disregard for law were likely to ruin this country, unless some giant force could correct these evils. A system of rigid inspection of buildings would have saved millions of dollars: one half-hour’s delay at a critical moment had cost the city fifty millions. The description of the march of the conflagration, and the prophecy as to the rebuilding of Boston, were exceedingly fine.
“Perhaps the most novel and interesting service in Boston, yesterday, was one held at half-past four o’clock in the afternoon in the Old South Church, — probably the last that will ever be held there. No words can add to the historic renown of this venerated landmark, which was erected in 1730, and is now, for the second time, occupied by troops. The audience yesterday was composed of several companies of the First Regiment, which has been quartered there while guarding the city, and a few citizens and a half-score of ladies who happened to learn of the event, as no notice was given. The interior of the church presented a rather novel scene. The cushions have been removed from the pews, and the floor is strewn with the litter of a soldiers’ camp. The glass has been broken from the windows on the side toward the fire, and some of the sashes have been entirely destroyed: consequently the soldiers’ caps and overcoats were necessary for protection against the cold. The view from the windows covers a large portion of the crumbling walls and smouldering ruins; while a camp-fire was sending up showers of bright sparks near at hand. The choir-seats were filled with soldiers, and a soldier manipulated the keys of the organ. The services were introduced with a prayer by the Rev. Jacob M. Manning; after which the soldier-choir sang, ‘Nearer, my God, to thee; ‘and remarks were made by Mr. Manning and Rev. W. H. H. Murray.
“In the Hanover-street M. E. Church Rev. J. R. Cushing of Auburndale preached from the text, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness I for in one hour is she made desolate.’ He said, Shall a revolution take place, plague put its leprous bandage on white lips, a fire scathe a great city, and the ministry be silent? No! There is a lesson written upon our smoking ruins as plainly visible as that on the palace-walls of impious Belshazzar. He then discussed the objections to a special providence, and the operations of natural law; affirming, that, where we find law, there is the planning mind acting. But law has no force of itself, will not execute itself: hence natural law is but the realization of the thought. Do these laws work without partiality? Yes. How, then, a special providence? Man has two natures, — material and spiritual; the first subject to the laws of matter; the second, to the laws of mind. This includes divine suggestions. The speaker illustrated this in various ways. He next affirmed that God does not permit such calamities, and quoted Scripture in support of it. If we need discipline, we may build a town upon a plain, and God will confound our tongues, and send a distemper in the air, compelling men to do the work of horses. He must do it if we need it. If, then, God could have prevented, and does permit, such calamities, had he been a human being he would have been held responsible. But God is wise and good, constantly teaching his people their dependence on him. Where could he have found a better place to teach this lesson? Granite melted, iron twisted, brick heaved and fell. Lastly, such calamities are also chargeable to human neglect: for such neglect man blames God. The speaker closed with the following practical suggestions : —
“1. Build well. Put no Mansard roofs on character. 2. God requires fruits (material as well as spiritual) in their season. 3. He rebukes extravagant habits of living. 4. Earth is a poor place to put treasure in. 5. Prepare to meet thy God.’ It is a poor time to pray in a fire. He fully illustrated his points, and was listened to with great interest.
“At the Clarendon-street Church, Rev. A. J. Gordon preached upon the lessons of the recent fire. He took for his text Isa. xxvi. 9: ‘When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.’
“He said, that, when a great calamity had befallen a nation or a city, the people ought to ask whether the hand of God was not in it, dealing with his people in judgment. There can be nothing superstitious or super-religious in such a course. Providence is too mysterious and complex a matter to be thus interpreted by our very imperfect and partial apprehension.
“The preacher then proceeded to draw the following lessons from the event: First, The lesson of humility. It is almost inevitable that a certain kind of municipal pride should be fostered by the constant sight of magnificent warehouses and public buildings. Granite is a powerful dehumiliant, to coin a word. It wears out the fibre of one’s reliance on God by its constant attrition upon the outward senses. Our eyes are so delighted with the massive pillars and blocks which we have hewn from the hills, and brought down for streets, that we forget to keep our eyes lifted to the hills, ‘from whence cometh our help.’ The second lesson was that of humanity. Riches and prosperity are apt to remove men from fellowship with the poor and struggling. Many would be compelled to renew that fellowship during the coming winter. Some who had been independent, will have, for the first time in years, to pinch and economize. It is hard; but it is a real blessing to be thus drawn back into sympathy, and made to have a fellow-feeling with the great mass of humanity whose whole lifetime is spent in stinting and economizing. The other lessons were dwelt upon at length, — the lesson of gratitude, in view of what we had left to us of our possessions; and the lesson of hope, in view of that ‘city that hath foundations,’ which cannot be burned, and in which, through Christ, we have ‘an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.’
“Hollis-Street Church was crowded with people last evening, gathered under the auspices of the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union, to consider the subject of ‘The Fire, and What to Do about It.’ Seats in the pulpit were occupied by Mr. W. H. Baldwin, president of the Union; Rev. Robert Collyer of Chicago; Rev. J. F. W. Ware; and Rev. George L. Chaney, pastor of the church. The addresses of the evening were prefaced with prayer by Mr. Collyer, and singing by a large choir under direction of Mr. Sharland.
“The speakers of the evening were Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Ware, Mr. Chaney, and Mr. Collyer. They were earnest, hopeful, and eloquent, all urging the young men to remain in dear old Boston, and share its fortunes in the bright time which was sure to come. Mr. Collyer made one of the grandest addresses which he ever made in Boston. It was manly, strong, and brave, and touched everybody who heard it. He spoke of the Chicago fire, and the hard trial it was for him to believe it a blessing in disguise; but he saw it all now, as Boston men and women would see it soon. If young men wanted to carry hods, or work at trades, Chicago was a good place for them; but there were plenty of clerks there now, bright fellows, without any thing to do In conclusion, he urged everybody to be hopeful and brave. Boston would be built up again, and grander than ever. It was much to remember that so few precious homes went in the flames.
“Rev. W. F. Mallalieu, at the Broadway Methodist, took for his text Ps. xxx. 6, 7. He said, As to the cause of the fire, there were two theories. The first was the inefficiency of the fire-department; and the second, the judgment of God. The first of these theories was inadequate, and the other unreasonable. The reign of law is inexorable; and the fire occurred and went forward in accordance with this law.
“Rev. Dr. S. K. Lothrop preached before the Brattlesquare Society yesterday. He spoke of the calamity, and said that the query, ‘What should be done?’ would rise in the minds of all: but it must be considered as an order of a wise and gracious Providence; for with this view of the matter alone could we be submissive, patient, and trustful; and the securing of these latter qualities was the true end of the calamity.
“Rev. Robert Collyer of Chicago officiated at the South Congregational Church. The services were most impressive and touching, and the attendance was large. In closing his discourse, Mr. Collyer said that the occasion called for a thankful heart and a more perfect trust, rather than a feeling of disregard for communion with God. Then they might feel, that, in all their affliction, he had been with them, and was ready to spread his protecting care about them, and bring out of things sad and desolating nothing but their future good.
“At both services held in the Beach-street Presbyterian Church yesterday the congregations were very large. On both occasions, the pastor, Rev. James B. Dunn, preached sermons alluding to the recent conflagration. In the evening Mr. Dunn took for his text Heb. xiii. 14: ‘For here have we no continuing city; but we seek one to come.’ The theme was the instability of earthly things, and was treated in a manner worthy of the occasion. In closing, Mr. Dunn spoke of ‘the work before Boston, her citizens, her merchants, and her Christians,’ and paid a just tribute to the heroism, bravery, self-sacrifice, and indomitable spirit, already exhibited, as an indication of what the future, under God, might present.
“Rev. Dr. Lorimer took as his theme yesterday forenoon ‘The Right-Doing of the Supreme Judge,’ and said, that, in great calamities like the fire, men either question the existence of a God, or question his justness: in both they were wrong. The fire was to teach men obedience, and should be received as a lesson. In closing, he counselled these qualities.
“At the Broadway Universalist Church, the pastor, Rev. J. J. Lewis, discoursed on ‘The Moral of Our Calamity,’ which he defined to be a new revelation of the Christian religion in its three fundamental principles of the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and . Jesus Christ the foundation of every thing worth the building, and of every character that stands the test. These propositions were illustrated by apt and striking illustrations; and the whole sermon was instructive and beneficial, and was listened to with deep interest.
“The Rev. V. M. Simons, pastor of the Bromfield-street Methodist-Episcopal Church, whose residence and church barely escaped the devouring flames, took for his text Prov. xxiii. 5: ‘Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.’
“Our death flies to us with our own feathers’ was the significant motto graved on Julian’s escutcheon, over which was painted an eagle pierced through the vitals with an arrow barbed with his own quills. The hieroglyph spells out the philosophy — the human philosophy — of our misfortune to-day as a city, save that our eagle, unlike the Roman one, should be pictured with wings of fire flying heavenward, with half a city blazing in his clutching talons. Destruction has flown to us on our own wings. We are disabled and desolated by the aid of the very agencies that were most our pride and power. From the high heights of our magnificent structures, fortunes, suddenly fledged with wings of flame, flew away into the silence of the interminable space.
“Standing amid the wreck of our ruined hopes, with the accumulations of a lifetime of hard industry swept from us, with riches of stocks and stores, merchandise and estates, flown away as an eagle toward heaven, it behooves us to accept the situation in the spirit of serious self-examination, and with reverent attention to the voice of that Providence which admonishes us not to set our eyes upon things so vain, vexatious, and uncertain as earthly possessions.
“When men esteem what perishes to be of more value than what endures, holding it too often with a hoarding grasp, God thunders his judgment against the folly in the crash of falling walls, or he sends the coveted treasure flying towards heaven on the wings of the fire; and so, with the emblazonry of acres of burning buildings, he writes before the astonished gaze of men, and burns into their convictions, the lesson of what perishes and what endures, — a lesson they will not so well learn from the gentler teachings of his daily and continuous providence. The fact is, the most that any man possesses of this world’s goods is not worth a moment’s self-gratulation: it is no more, in comparison with what he does not possess, than an infinitesimal speck to the immensity of God’s creation. When men survey what they have builded as though it were their own, and as though they had absolute right and power to have and to hold it, they challenge God to push it over, blow it down, or burn it to ashes, at his pleasure.
“It becomes the duty now of all sufferers, and especially of Christian sufferers, to be cheerful. Cheerfulness and godliness are the lessons of the fire, the duty of the hour. Now is the time to honor the Master you have so long loved and served. Now is the time to fulfil the apostle’s injunction, — ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.’ Now is the midnight of your misfortune, into the darkness of which you may send the illumination of your faith, brighter than the flames that blazed along the sky. Now is the time for the setting of bright rainbows of good cheer among the crystal drops of your falling tears. Now is the time to put all the two hundred song-chapters of the Bible into a grand hymn of thanksgiving, and send it, like Latimer’s victorious martyr-anthem, sounding beyond the stars.
“And let us resolve henceforth to cherish that godliness which is ‘profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.’
“Millions swept away in a night, and only acres of black, smouldering ruins remaining; and shall we set our eyes upon the things which are not, forgetting that riches make themselves wings, and fly away as an eagle toward heaven’?
“Take a golden crown to cure your headache; take a royal sceptre in your hands to challenge the approach of pestilence; bind a diamond necklace about your throat to charm away your choking grief; do any and every other foolish and absurd thing to defy the power of ‘the powers that be:’ but presume not to offer Death’s doorkeeper money to buy your passage to God’s summer-land. Trade not for transitory trash, — the gold and greatness of earth, — but rather ‘for glory, immortality, eternal life,’ — the imperishable riches and renown of heaven. Put not your treasures in earthen vessels nor vaults, but transfer them to the forts and castles of that city whose walls and towers shall never be wreathed with flame.
“The Rev. Dr. Rollin H. Neale of the First Baptist Church took for his text Jer. viii. 6: ‘I hearkened and heard; but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course as the horse rusheth into the battle.’
“These words of the prophet were uttered in view of the many calamities that came upon the people of Israel, resulting in their final subjugation and captivity. It is not in my heart to apply the language of the text to our own citizens, faint and trembling, stunned by the shock they have received, and scarcely knowing what they have suffered.
“The excellent spirit which has thus far been manifested, the cheerfulness, the courage and hope, everywhere expressed, we must all approve and rejoice in.
“The firemen who labored nobly to stay the flames are entitled to gratitude. The city government in all its departments did their duty, — the best they could in the circumstances. If some mistakes were made, they will be readily excused, owing to the excitement of the moment, the fearfulness of the hour.
“We shall never forget, or fail to remember with gratitude, the kindly voices of sympathy and good cheer which came to us from other places. The words of Henry Ward Beecher, Sunday night, were prompt and characteristic. He remembered his boyhood days. Those streets aflame, or covered with smouldering ruins, he had seen and been familiar with in his youth. He loved Boston, and now, in her calamity, was not ashamed to speak of it. Her enterprise and benevolence, her schools, her churches, her merchants, her patriotic history in early and in later times, — it was ah inspiring theme to him; and he worked it well, and had the full sympathy of his hearers and of those who have since read his words. All this we are and ought to be thankful for.
“Then, too, the voice from Chicago, how strange! and yet how good! A hundred thousand dollars which had been raised for themselves, and which they still needed, but thinking their benefactors were now suffering more than they, they must send to us. Like the sailor, who, with a comrade, was upset in a boat off the Straits of Dover. As he rose from the water, and saw the people on shore making preparations to get a rope to him, he cried out, ‘Fling it to John! He’s just ready to go down; and I can hold out a while longer.’ These calamities do often reveal the best side of human nature.
“Our own citizens, men in whose wisdom we have confidence, are, with sound reason, taking judicious and effectual measures to meet the present exigency, and provide for the future prosperity and safety of the city. You have already read in the public papers of what has been done to relieve present suffering and to provide work for those thrown out of employ, and the measures proposed for rebuilding in the burnt district. The State and National Government have generously volunteered to favor our merchants and prominent business-men in the enterprises they contemplate for the good of the city. And yet, notwithstanding all this, there is some occasion for the words of the text, — I hearkened and heard; but they spake not aright: no one repented him of the evil, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course as the horse rusheth into the battle.’
“I hope good sentiments will be uttered from different pulpits to-day; but it seems to me, that, thus far, there has scarcely a right view been taken of the providence of God in this event. The immediate causes of the fire have been very properly inquired into; the narrow streets, the high buildings, and the Mansard roofs, criticised and condemned, as they should be: but there is a disposition to feel satisfied after finding out the immediate cause of a calamity. There is a sensitiveness about moral lessons, as if they implied that this calamity was a judgment of God, like that which destroyed the old world, and overthrew the cities of the plain. This does not necessarily follow.
“Physical calamities are not always nor generally connected with, certainly not proportioned to, the moral deserts of those who suffer them. The great wheels of the universe move with wonderful exactness, and do not turn aside a hair’s-breadth to spare a good man, or to crush a bad one. Nevertheless, all the ways of God are instructive. The wheels of Providence are full of eyes indicating intelligence and design; and every circumstance which occurs in our history is designed to do us good. It is to be regarded as the voice of God to us, and charged with some lesson of wisdom, of encouragement, counsel, or admonition, which we do well to heed; and none the less so, but all the more, because blessings and afflictions, prosperity and adversity, may be traced, like summer and winter, to fixed and unalterable law. The lessons of prosperity are obvious, though more likely to be unheeded than those of affliction. God’s mercies are designed to anchor gratitude to the bounteous giver. ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.’
“They are designed also to prompt the recipient to do good to others that are in need. God pours upon men the bounties of providence and the richer gifts of his grace, not that they should be proud and selfish, but that they should distribute of their store as generous and faithful stewards of the Lord. God blessed Abraham that he should be a blessing to his seed after him. And wherefore blessed he him? — that in him all the nations of the earth might be blessed. The lessons of sorrow, especially of great calamities like that which has just visited our city, are still more impressive.
“One was to remind us that life, in its greatest apparent safety, is constantly exposed to imminent peril. Spite of human safeguards, there are a thousand ways in which the unseen danger may appear. ‘We looked for peace,’ said the prophet, ‘but no good came; and for a time of health, and, behold, trouble.’ The first that Israel knew of danger was in the awful tramp of the enemy. The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan. The whole land trembled at the neighing of his strong ones.
“Thus secure felt our citizens when this danger burst upon them. Other cities, Portland and Chicago, with their wooden buildings and insufficient safeguards, might be burned; but we were more wise, men thought, prudent and strong — our houses were of granite, and could defy the elements. But, do what we may, there are yet perils of fiercest kind which we cannot foresee, and which God alone controls. God’s love is manifest in his great power. His fixed laws are chains to mightiest elements; for every night of peaceful repose, for every balmy summer’s day, is because the powers of Nature are held in as with bit and bridle, and stir only at the bidding of the Lord. He saith to the lightnings, ‘Go forth;’ and they say, ‘Here we are.’ The winds are his ministers, and flames of fire his angels. He giveth to the sea its bounds, saying, ‘Thus far shalt thou come, but no farther; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.’ He causeth the outgoing of the morning. Here, then, is a lesson to be learned, — Our constant dependence upon God. This conflagration is designed to remind us how great and numerous are the unseen evils which God is keeping us from every day and hour, not by any miraculous interposition; not, perhaps, by any special providence, if by that a miracle is implied, a miraculous power that is unseen and everlasting; but by an eternal vigilance which sleeps not, neither is weary.
“Another designed, and, as a general thing, real effect of these great calamities, is to make men more sensible of their ordinary mercies.
“Many of our citizens, I am happy to say, have not suffered loss; and they feel grateful. And even they who have suffered think of what is left. They are thankful that health and youth or manly vigor may be still left. They did not know till now how many blessings they had.
“The most important
lesson taught by this providence is the precious privilege of coming to God in
seasons of sorrow. ‘God is our refuge and strength,’ says the Psalmist; ‘a very
present help in trouble.’ The whole of the forty-sixth Psalm was written to
re-assure and sustain God’s people in times of great calamity. The hymn of
Watts founded on this psalm was sung at the recent meeting of citizens, while
many an eye was suffused with grateful tears: —
“There is, I am sorry to say, another lesson taught by these calamities; and that is, their insufficiency to reclaim the wicked. Sometimes, indeed, an individual, like the prodigal, is led by trouble to reflect upon his misconduct, and to reform: but seldom, very seldom, is a sinner converted by any great public calamity, not even when it touches himself; and sometimes, perhaps, as the result of his own wickedness, he loses himself in the crowd, and forgets his vow. The language of the text does but describe human nature in its worldliness and sin, — ‘I hearkened and heard; but they spake not aright: none repented him of the evil, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course as the horse rusheth into the battle.’ It is sad that this should be so; but so it is: and it shows us our need of the gospel, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit.
“These great calamities show people as they are, and, without the special interposition of grace, as they are likely to remain till the judgment-day. The skeletons exhumed from the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are specimens of the diversities of character manifest under a common catastrophe. The miser was found clutching his gold; and, if he had escaped, would probably have continued to clutch it. A soldier was found at the post of duty, — a specimen of the noble fidelity and courage and fortitude which soldiers of the cross in times of trial are found to possess. A mother was found with her infant in her arms, and hands uplifted as if in prayer, as now many a suppliant in the hour of sorrow is led to look beseechingly to Him who alone can help.
“In a word, God’s
providences, whether of affliction or blessing, do us good, or otherwise,
according as we have a heart to improve or abuse them. The prayer of each one
should be, ‘O Lord! give me a heart that shall be submissive and grateful under
all thy doings.’
“The pastors of the Union Church, Columbus Avenue, made special and very appropriate reference to the great calamity in all the services of the forenoon. The Rev. Mr. Parsons preached from the words of 1 Pet. i. 7: ‘That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.’ The main object of the preacher was to indicate the religious uses which should be made of this terrible calamity.
“Other interesting discourses were delivered by Rev. Mr. Schermerhorn at the Church of the Unity, Rev. Daniel Steele at the Tremont-street Methodist, Rev. Dr. Miner at the Clarendon-street Universalist, Rev. Mr. Potter, Rev. John DeWitt at the Central Church, and others in Boston.
“Rev. Dr. Talmage closed the services at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Tabernacle yesterday with the following prayer, after alluding to the Boston fire: ‘Lord Almighty, put out the fire, and control its raging. Silence the agony of prostrate, dying, burning Boston. Hear thou the cry of the distressed and the homeless. O Lord! let our prayer be heard for those now amid the crackling of the flames. Lord, help them! Save their churches, save their storehouses, save their homes, save their lives! May there go forth from all this land a deep, heartfelt sympathy, such as not long ago we felt for another city! As that tribulation and trial was blessed to all this land, we pray thee that this tribulation and trial of a sister-city may be blessed to us. May we feel with what a very slender grasp we hold all our earthly treasures, and that nothing on earth is certain; and if man gets a whole world, and invests it in storehouses, he is not sure of the investment. This shall be our closing prayer: Lord, help that city! Amen.’”
The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher delivered the following touching address in his pulpit at Brooklyn, N.Y., on the morning of Sunday, while the fire was still burning. After the usual opening exercises, Mr. Beecher, without taking any text, spoke as follows: —
“I suppose that there is no one in this congregation that has not been made aware of the great disaster that has befallen, and still rests upon, the city near to our borders, whose name is synonymous with American liberty, — the city of Boston. No such a calamity has ever fallen upon us. It is a national disaster. To-day, while we have had this bright sun, it has shone with a lurid light, through blackened clouds, upon that city. Her bells have been silent, or rung out only alarms; and while we have gathered together in our places of worship, or dwelt together in peace in our own houses, in that great city there have been no gatherings except of crowds in the streets, and no peace. Her churches have been silent, and some of them consumed.
“How great the disaster is we cannot yet say; but we know that street and street, street upon street, through the whole of the central and best business-section of the city, the richest part of it, is reduced to crumbling ruins. And there is no other city that can offer up such buildings to destruction. Granite — it is a child of fire, and would seem to be able to defy the flames; but it seems as if it sparkles and cracks, and is destroyed, — as if it were chalk. I go back to my boyhood, when I lived there. I remember all the streets that have been desolated by this fire. I have run through them of errands; I have played through them. I remember the stately old residences where the old families dwelt. Little by little the streets have been given up, street after street, to business-purposes, and gorgeous stores have taken the place of the proud residences, and changes have come over the whole of this part of the city. And such stores! What solidity! what height! what capacity! It seemed as if ingenuity had concentrated in the building of them all its exercise. Architecture had done its best; and yet the flame has puffed out its lips at them, and they are gone.
“Things that seemed as though they would stand as long as the Pyramids would stand are to-night ruins. Looking down through those streets, we seemed to look through some rocky canon or through some lane cut through some mountain; and they are all gone as if they were rags. The sun went down last night smiling upon a great, prosperous city: when it rose this morning, it looked upon a roaring storm of flame; and to-night it sets upon a wilderness of ashes. We can never imagine it, the loss is so wide, so sudden, so entire, so contrary to all human chances. The disaster is, in some respects, unmeasured, un measurable. The loss of products, of skill, of brain-fruit, has been transcendent. Men say two hundred and fifty million dollars were lost in twelve hours. How much that is, neither you nor I can understand.
“The loss of machinery, of fabrics, buildings, the blotting-out of so much wealth, is no small loss. The vast flocks had yielded up their fleeces through the season, the ships had brought in the fruits and spices and goods of every quarter of the globe, and they had been stored, and were just waiting upon the market: now all are gone. The loss of capital is an immense loss both to the city and to the nation. It is ruin to hundreds and thousands. No mind can take in the conception of this magnified, aggravated loss. Hundreds are bankrupt. The man yesterday at ease is to-day full of trouble. The man that looked through a golden avenue yesterday, to-day looks through an avenue darkened with coals and ashes. Yesterday, gold; to-day, red-hot coals. More than all this, I feel the sudden precipitation of the calamity upon the poor driven from their houses.
“Pictures need not be waited for. In imagination we can see those that had little losing that little; and the little of the poor is more loss to him than all that the rich man can lose. Huddled in corners, driven out from street after street, unable to help themselves, with the crowd they proceed along. Driven and already despoiled, they must needs suffer yet more through the cold of the approaching winter. A year ago, Chicago was destroyed: now it is Boston. In the city of the plain, in the old city of the East; the city whose history is yet to be made in the Far West, in the city whose history is part of the history of the continent: so East and West have been joined together at last in a common calamity. Upon no other place could a calamity have fallen which would have touched so universally the national life and the national feelings as upon the city of Boston, — this city from which were sprung the earliest American ideas. By American ideas I mean something definite, something tangible; I mean a conception of government that springs from the people, is retained by the people; I mean ideas of that faith in the assumption and self-governing capacities of man when rightly educated and directed to free institutions. I mean by American ideas a faith that men by their masses of the whole of society are of more importance to the nation and to the world’s life than the precious upper classes, the few cultured and polished men. Boston stands for American ideas. Our earliest heroes of liberty are placed right there. It was from Massachusetts that Virginia kindled her torch. When the mother-country made war upon us, and we gained our independence, and the king was disowned, and government was set up, and when magistrates knew not how to begin right, it was from the Adamses of Massachusetts that Jefferson derived his earliest notions of the liberty of the new government. And, during all the period of the American war, from this fountain the national peace fed: and there never was a day when old Massachusetts failed; there never has been a day since, when liberty was imperilled, that Boston flinched. They have been the head of this nation in the best sense of the term.
“Here began American history; here American institutions commenced. Not that there are not other places: but the stream began to flow here, which has been as a river of life to this nation ever since; and it is continual. Other States have fallen from their eminent position, have gone down and down and down; but old Massachusetts has never taken a step backward. Boston has never ceased to be a brain full of vitality, and full of the vitality of knowledge of liberty and religion. Hated it has been because it has been felt, — hated because misrule hates rules, because disorder hates imperious order, because passion hates intelligence, because anarchy hates regulated liberty; and yet, with whatever prejudices she may have been assailed, there is not on this shore a city, nor in all the plains, nor in the whole realm of these confederated States, a considerable town or city, that does not owe a debt of gratitude to the city of Boston. She has given something to the history of every place that thrives on the continent; and the whole nation has been her debtor for schools, for literature, for scholars, — a noble band, who from the earliest days, and never more illustrious than to-day, have been her glory; while nowhere else has there been so large a class of scholars, or if I may say so, changing the phrase, so large a scholarly class, who have expended so much in making the highest education free and accessible to the common people and the very bottom of society. Call Boston aristocratic; smile at her peculiarities as you will: her colleges make amends for all. And I tell you, to-day there are no such common schools on the globe as hers. There is no such provision as that which she gives in music, in mechanical drawing, the fine arts, all the elemental studies, and to the higher advancement of knowledge, to the sons of her draymen or the sons of her emigrants: black or white, the poorest and lowest, she opens to them all the resources in her schools, without money and without price; educates them more munificently than the college of a hundred years ago did the sons of the rich.
“Her history is written in the best things that have befallen this land; and shame on that man who in the day of her disaster has no tears for her! God could not have laid the hand of fire on any city that would have touched the vital chord of sympathy so widely as upon this. It is not a local calamity: it is national. It touches the heart and patriotism of every man: it enlists the sympathy of every man that rejoices in refinement; of every man that loves what is noble in literature, or what is noble in American history. Let us not, in looking upon so great a calamity as this, be led into speculation as to its significance, and try to find interpretation of the meaning of Divine Providence. In other days, when men knew less, it was not strange that they tried to interpret the reasons; and some may say that this calamity was sent to humble the proud hearts of the people of Boston: as if, if God sent calamities to humble proud hearts, there would be a spot on the globe that would be spared; as if New York or Brooklyn would escape! Shall one pupil take all the punishment when the whole school is at fault? It may be said it is sent to punish avarice.
“Who shall dare to say that this disaster has been sent for any such purpose as this, or that it has been sent in any way than as summer or winter is sent? Can a sparrow fall to the ground without the notice of the Maker? No: but they do fall to the ground, and he sees it; and yet they fall. There is not an iceberg that breaks with thunder from the solitary north to sail down to lower latitudes that is not also a creature of providence; and it is the providence of the administration of Nature’s law. There is a providence of God working through all life. He does work through great natural laws. So God sends cholera upon one nation, and plague upon another; but who shall say it was because one nation was Mohammedan, or another was Catholic, or another was Protestant? The prophets are all dead, and there are no authorized interpreters of how God acts. There is a moral use of this calamity; but it is one that looks toward the future. It asks not why this was done; but, this being done, how shall we make benefit out of that which is disaster? We are to interpret in the future, not in the past.
“Cities which are the grandest products of civilization have had the most stumbling irregularities of histories. Some have grown almost by accident, although certain great laws determined their position; yet much is left to bungling chance, or individual caprice and whim. Why should there be narrow streets? Individual rights have been protected, to block up the way, and hinder public advancement; and this has prevented economy, and set at nought wisdom, cleanliness, sewerage. Things which are comparatively unimportant when families live in the fields become of vital interest when ten thousands of families are huddled together in large cities, where hundreds of thousands of men are making malaria by their breath, by their offal, by all their filth. Is it wise, then, to dwell thus? And yet men learned nothing of these things till the plague taught them; and the fever and the plague are the architects of London. The plague and the fever, the cholera and desolation, have been the architects of many and many a city; and these diseases are but Nature walking with her secrets unrolled, — a teacher, a schoolmaster, — teaching men wisdom. Famine taught the necessity of husbandry. David thought that the three years of famine was because he numbered the people. Are we, then, to breed a famine every ten years when we take the census? But improvident people — people like the Italians, that have shorn their land of the forests, and so have their seasons of deluge — believe them to be visitations of Providence; and they pray that they may be averted. Instead of praying to God, they should plant trees. Is it not God? Yes; but men do not understand what he says. They say, Pray and repent;’ and that is all very well. These things ought to be done, but not leave the other undone. The voice of God warns man not to shear the earth of its forests, nor to live in uncleanly, crowded streets. The voice of God in the pestilence warns man to live healthy. The voice of Nature teaches man by terrible lessons how to improve life and human cities.
“I think I may say, without any fear of contradiction, that this fire is not an accident: it is not an event sprung off from the great natural law. The city had violated certain great natural laws. Was it right to have streets so narrow that the flames could reach across so easily? People say it has been so three hundred years, and there has been no fire. Yes, so there are plants that take a hundred years to bloom; but they do bloom every hundred years. There is a city not far from here that may learn a lesson about this one of these days. Was it necessary that buildings should be carried up story upon story, not fire-proof, vast in height, and that then a cap should be set upon them, quick to take fire, and out of the reach of firemen? Is it wise to lay the foundations of them solid, to carry up the first story fire-proof, the second story fire-proof, the third, the fourth, the fifth story, all fire-proof, and then put a Mansard roof on the top of all, to take fire, and scatter sparks around the neighborhood?
“These great buildings which are our pride and admiration, admirable for business-purposes, are now, as it proves, although this was not intended by the architect, admirable for fire. But territory is small, and land is valuable; and they cannot afford to build other than narrow streets. Can they afford to burn up again? Do you suppose, if the streets had been broad, wide avenues; do you suppose, if there had been interjected here and there an open square or some small park, — there would have been any such conflagration? Do you not see what a contracted lane there was, — a direct provocation and temptation to fire, with an invitation to the fire-devil sitting on every Mansard roof? If Boston repeats her error now, after suffering, it will be because this fire has been without any profit. We also learn that it is not enough in constructing public buildings that they should be made convenient for business: there is a lesson in this, — that every complete business-house should be a fire-department as well; that there should be such instrumentalities, such hydraulic contrivances, that every house could take care of itself.
“We have learned to build hollow walls, how to carry air and light and heat and water through all the house: and it is but a step beyond this to make every house an engine-house, and every man a fireman; every building fire-proof, or with the means of extinguishing fire. Here are lessons to be learned by this fire. Instead of asking if God meant to humble Boston, let us look into the future, and see what are the lessons to be learned from such a conflagration as this. Let us hope, that, in ten years hence, Boston, that to-night mourns the calamity, will give thanks to God for the benefaction. Meanwhile there are some thoughts that are proper. You should never see a calamity befall another man without taking home the consideration, ‘It may befall me.’ When Death knocks at your neighbor’s door, it may be on its way to you. When blight desolates another man’s field, it is to teach you likewise that your own fields may come to canker and sorrow. When great calamities befall Other cities, it ought to warn us that it might befall ours.”
Mr. Beecher concluded with an earnest hope that the nation would come to the relief of the suffering city, and help to bear its burden.