Upon Building After Fires
It is a saying of Florus the historian, concerning the fatal fire of Corinth, in which all the edifices were consumed into ashes and its statues of brass, silver and gold melted into one common mass: the devastating of that wealthy city was an occasion to make the metal of it to be highly esteemed in after ages. The like may be said concerning many buildings, that the flames which have turned them into desolate ruins, have occasioned a following a beauty and stateliness in the second fabrics far above what the first ever had.
How oft have we seen by such accidents the dimensions of buildings enlarged, the forms and models of them much bettered, the whole with much more art and cost enriched, so as to fill the beholders with delight and wonder.
Can man thus improve disadvantages and make burnings and indigested heaps to serve as a foil to his art and skill? Can he effect a kind of resurrection and new-birth to what was once destroyed?
What then can God do, whose power is perfected in weakness, and like the sun shines brightest when envisioned with the blackest clouds and difficulties? Surely he can, yea, and undoubtedly will give a being to the bodies of his martyrs, which the fire hath consumed into ashes and the wind has scattered into distances. He will awake his saints, who have made (for ages) their beds in the grave, and have filled their mouths with gravel and slime of the pit: He will call for his redeemed ones from out of the deep sea, and from the maws of fishes that have devoured them, and give to every one of them, not only the same specific, but the same numerical body, changed in its properties, but not in its essence, clarified angelical perfections but not transubstantiated from a corporeal to a spiritual substance [1 Corinthians 15:44]: Is not all this done already in Christ? Our nature in his body is spiritualized, to tell us, that for possibility it may be, and for certainty it shall be so in us. He is our brother therefore we may be like him. And he is our head, therefore we must be like him in a conformity to his glorious body.
Why therefore should I fear the greatest enemies of life, the fire, the grave and the sea? Is there anything too hard for God? Is not his power and his promise engaged to do that for me which he has done for my Savior? Has he not said that those that sleep in Jesus he will bring with him?
Lord help me to make it my only care to have my life holy,
that my resurrection may be happy;
to live to Christ that I may live with Christ;
and from a Netherlander in the dust below,
may be made a citizen of the New Jerusalem which is above
and rejoice in the joy of thy people and glory with your inheritance.