The Gunpowder Plot – Guy Fawkes

C. H. Spurgeon The Daily Devotion by C. H. Spurgeon makes reference on this day to the Gunpowder Plot against King James I which today is “celebrated” as Guy Fawkes Night.

November 5

Morning

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.”
– Isa 54:17

17  No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. ~ Isaiah 54:17

This day is notable in English history for two great deliverances wrought by God for us. On this day the plot of the Papists to destroy our Houses of Parliament was discovered, 1605.

“While for our princes they prepare
In caverns deep a burning snare,
He shot from heaven a piercing ray,
And the dark treachery brought to day.”

And secondly-to-day is the anniversary of the landing of King William III, at Torbay, by which the hope of Popish ascendancy was quashed, and religious liberty was secured, 1688.

This day ought to be celebrated, not by the saturnalia of striplings, but by the songs of saints. Our Puritan forefathers most devoutly made it a special time of thanksgiving. There is extant a record of the annual sermons preached by Matthew Henry on this day. Our Protestant feeling, and our love of liberty, should make us regard its anniversary with holy gratitude. Let our hearts and lips exclaim, “We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us the wondrous things which thou didst in their day, and in the old time before them.” Thou hast made this nation the home of the gospel; and when the foe has risen against her, thou hast shielded her. Help us to offer repeated songs for repeated deliverances. Grant us more and more a hatred of Antichrist, and hasten on the day of her entire extinction. Till then and ever, we believe the promise, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” Should it not be laid upon the heart of every lover of the gospel of Jesus on this day to plead for the overturning of false doctrines and the extension of divine truth? Would it not be well to search our own hearts, and turn out any of the Popish lumber of self-righteousness which may lie concealed therein?

Gunpowder Plot and your KJV Bible

Guy Fawkes Gun-powder Plot. A late 17th or early 18th century report of the plot.Issue Date: May/June 2013

While the U.S. has its Fourth of July, complete with fireworks and revelry, England also has November 5 and it appears their celebration outdoes the USA’s. All over the country “bonfire societies” field multiple parades complete with massive firework displays. One example in the news recently was a small town of 16,000 called Lewes, which hosts some 60,000 visitors who joined the festivities.

So, what is so special about November 5? It’s Guy Fawkes Day!

Those who know the history of the holiday, know the significance of the “gunpowder plot” that got Fawkes and some of his buddies executed. But, if Fawkes had succeeded in igniting the fuse to 36 barrels of gunpowder, you and I might have a very different Bible to read today.

The year was 1605, just 6 years before the publication of the King James Bible that became the standard English scriptures for some 400 years. King James had been petitioned by the Puritans to authorize the translation of a “new and completely accurate” English Bible. He immediately commissioned over 50 scholars from Oxford and Cambridge to begin the work. The men chosen were the most learned of their day not only in linguistics but biblical theology. Many of them were fluent in up to 14 languages.

All this was happening in the middle of a pitched battle between the leaders of the Reformation and the Vatican. And the Bible was the prize in that war. For over 100 years the Reformers had fought to print the Bible in the language of the people. The Vatican had commissioned the Jesuits and the Dominicans with the task of destroying those Bibles. Politics had become one of the battlefields with the rulers of England alternating between Protestant and Catholic.

At this point, King James was Protestant and almost literally had a bull’s eye on his back. Jesuit agents cooked the “gunpowder plot” to tunnel under the Parliament building and set off a massive explosive while it was in session. Their hope was to kill King James and as many of the Members of Parliament as possible.

Guy Fawkes was enlisted by the pope to carry out the plan. He and about half-a-dozen other men started the tunnel and eventually positioned 36 barrels of gunpowder in place. In their attempt to carry out their plan, they met one problem after another so that, looking back, the Lord was surely toying with their little plan. During the digging, they hit an unexpected wall underground. But a cellar was discovered that gave them the required access. Next, Parliament delayed meeting for several months and the powder got wet and had to be replaced. Finally one of the men wrote a letter warning a Catholic friend to stay away from the building on a certain date. The letter ended up in the hands of the king who discovered the scheme just hours before the targeted meeting.

November 5 was legislated a national day of thanksgiving for deliverance from “papists.” Today, it is celebrated as a fun festival with few recognizing the continued dangers of Roman Catholicism. But had the pope not lost that battle, you and I might be reading a Roman Catholic Bible, if we were even allowed to possess one.

But the story of the war waged by the Vatican to stop God’s word for the common people is not over. Today gunpowder is not the weapon of choice, it is ecumenism and polluted bibles. David W. Daniels explains many fascinating details of this 500-year war and the present state of hostilities, in his book, Did the Catholic Church Give Us the Bible?, available from Chick Publications.

Gunpowder treason and plot

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James’s nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John and Christopher Wright, Robert and Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in the failed suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.

Monteagle letter. An anonymous letter, sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, was instrumental in revealing the plot's existence. Its author's identity has never been reliably established, although Francis Tresham has long been a suspect. Monteagle himself has been considered responsible, as has Salisbury The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. During a search of the House of Lords at about midnight on 4 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learned of the plot’s discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House; in the ensuing battle, Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on 27 January 1606, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Details of the assassination attempt were allegedly known by the principal Jesuit of England, Father Henry Garnet. Although he was convicted of treason and sentenced to death, doubt has been cast on how much he really knew of the plot. As its existence was revealed to him through confession, Garnet was prevented from informing the authorities by the absolute confidentiality of the confessional. Although anti-Catholic legislation was introduced soon after the plot’s discovery, many important and loyal Catholics retained high office during King James I’s reign. The thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards by special sermons and other public events such as the ringing of church bells, which have evolved into the Bonfire Night of today.

The following poem has been handed down through time, elements of which are still reiterated even today. It sums up how the Protestants felt about the events that unfolded on that day in 1605:

“Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!

A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.

A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!”

However, true Christians do not condone the violent language that is reflected in this poem especially in the last stanza.

This villainous plot had everything to do with King James the 1st’s commission of the “Authorised Version” of the Holy Bible, known as the King James Bible, in 1604 and the gunpowder plot took place in 1605.

Soli Deo Gloria

________________________________

Sources: Chick.com Publications and Wikipedia

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