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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Sign of the Blazing Star

By Increase Mather (1639–1723)

[Born in Dorchester, Mass., 1639. Died in Boston, Mass., 1723. Heavens Alarm to the World. 1681.]

SOMETIMES such signs in heaven are presages of miserable dearths and scarcity. That blazing star impending over Jerusalem which the text hath reference unto was attended with a terrible famine, whereby multitudes perished. And therefore such signs are frequently portentous of those judgments which cause want and scarcity: e. gr. of sore droughts and blastings and the multiplication of noxious creatures that destroy the fruits of the earth. All which particulars I could confirm unto you by approved history which declareth how they have all been presaged by “blazing stars” in heaven.

Lamentable deaths and destructions amongst men have been oftentimes presaged by such sights in heaven. Sudden and amazing ruins by earthquakes, by inundations, by fire and the like awful visitations have been thereby portended. Especially destructions by mortal and contagious diseases. That strange disease known by the name of Sudor Anglicanus, which in a peculiar manner pursued those of the English nation, even when in strange lands (whence they were dreaded in all places where they came), there was a “blazing star” that did precede it. Especially that which is of all diseases miserable mortals are subject unto the most terrible (I mean the plague of pestilence), it is frequently thus presaged. Such sights are “Heaven’s Alarm” to a sinful world, to give notice that God hath bent his bow and made his arrows ready and that if sinners turn not the arrows of pestilence and death shall fall down upon them speedily. This might be confirmed by a multitude of instances but it needs not. Our own experience is enough. We cannot but remember the “blazing star” that was seen but sixteen years ago, and a terrible plague followed; so that in our own nation near upon an hundred thousand were swept away in one city and in one year. And it is reported that immediately after that great blazing star which appeared above threescore years ago God sent the plague amongst the natives in this land, which swept them away in such multitudes, as that the living were not enough to bury the dead. So did the Lord cast out the heathen before this his people, that the way might thereby be prepared unto our more peaceable settlement here.