Concerning the expected return of Halley's comet,
Benjamin Franklin muses in his 1757 Poor Richard's Almanack:
Should a Comet in its Course strike the Earth, it might instantly beat it to Pieces, or carry it off out of the Planetary System. The great Conflagration may also, by Means of a Comet, be easily brought about;... all the Disputes between the Powers of Europe would be settled in a Moment; the World, to such a Fire, being no more than a Wasp's Nest thrown into an Oven.
But our Comfort is, the same great Power that made the Universe, governs it by his Providence. And such terrible Catastrophes will not happen till 'tis best they should. ---- In the mean time, we must not presume too much on our own Importance. There are an infinite Number of Worlds under the divine Government, and if this was annihilated it would scarce be miss'd in the Universe.
God sees with equal Eye, as Lord of all,