Irenicum, to the lovers of truth and peace heart-divisions opened in the causes and evils of them : with cautions that we may not be hurt by them, and endeavours to heal them
Burroughs, Jeremiah, 1599-1646.


The sixth dividing Principle.* What is in it selfe best must be chosen and done, not weighing circumstances, or references.

THis brings much trouble to the Churches; yea it causeth much trouble in the spirits and lives of many truly god∣ly. It causeth men to break the bonds of their Callings, of their Relations, of their publique Interests, therefore certain∣ly it must needs be a dividing Principle.

Some men whose calling is only to a private employment, yet having some gifts, and having used sometimes in their Fa∣milies to take a Scripture, and speak something out of it; up∣on this they think it is a better thing to be exercised in prea∣ching Gods word, then to fit in a shop all day, at some meane worke, or selling out wares, therefore they thinke they are bound to give over their Callings, which they look at as too low, mean things, and be Preachers of the Word, not regard∣ing those due ways that Christ would have men come into such an employment by. Although I do not think, but that Page  85 Tradesmen, who have good knowledg in the Scripture, and are gifted by God to speak the Word to people for their edifi∣cation, when there is a want of able men, who have been all their lives preparing for such a work, and are set apart for it, rather then people should continue in ignorance, and so pe∣rish (if those who are able and fit to judg, shal judg them meet for such a work) they may be employd to make Christ known to them; yet for every man that takes himself to be a gifted man, and it may be is so judged, by some who are willing to flatter him, to take upon him of himselfe, or by the advice of two or three of his friends, to leave his other employment for the work of the Ministry, because that is a more noble and ex∣cellent work; this is not a way of God, but a way of confusi∣on and disorder.

Again, it is in it selfe a better thing to enjoy a Ministry of the most eminent gifts and graces, then one of lower; but if this should be made a rule, that a man who is under a Pastor, who is faithfull, and in some good measure gifted, upon ano∣ther mans coming into the Countrey that is more eminent, he should forsake his Pastor, and joyn to the other▪ and if af∣ter this still a more eminent man comes, he should leave the former and joyn to him; and by the same Law, a Pastor who hath a good people, yet if others be more likely to receive more good, he may leave his own people, and goe to them, what confusion and disorder would there be continually in the Church? Men must consider, not only what the thing is in its own nature, but what it is to them, how it stands in re∣ference to their relations. If you be joyned to a Pastor, so as you believe he is set over you by Christ, to be a Pastor to you (not because the Bishop hath sent one, or an old Usurer dyes, and leaves the Patronage of a living to some Ostler or Tap∣wench in an Alehouse, and he or she shall send one by vertue of their right to the patronage, this cannot tie a mans consci∣ence to depend upon him for the ordinances of Christ all his days, in case he cannot remove his dwelling, but if you can∣not but look upon the man as the Pastor that Christ hath set over you.) Though this man hath meaner gifts then others; and it would be more comfortable to you to have another Pastor; yet this is not enough to cause you to diset him whom Page  84〈1 page duplicate〉Page  85〈1 page duplicate〉Page  86 Christ hath set over you; and if people may not leave their Pastors, because others have more eminent gifts, then surely Pastors must not leave their people, because others have more eminent Livings.

To instance yet further, that you may see how this Princi∣ple disturbs mens spirits: Many being in the works of their Calling, have some thoughts come into their mind, that pray∣er is a better work, more noble and spirituall then to be em∣ployed as they are; therefore they must needs presently leave their worke, and go toe prayer: How many have been per∣plexed with temptations this way, by which their lives have been made very uncomfortable? Prayer in it selfe is better, but is it better at this time for me, all things considered? am not I about that wch God hath called me to do? By this Prin∣ciple many decive and trouble themselves, in respect of their souls; as some by a conceit of the like nature, deceive & bring great trouble to themselves in respect of their bodies; some who have sickly bodies, their flesh is decayed, they think such and such things have most nourishment in them, such things are hot, and full of spirits, and juyce, therefore they will eate and drink altogether such things, leaving their ordinary dy∣et; by this means thy many times overthrow their bodies: for though a man wants flesh, yet the way for him to have it, it may be is not to take nourishing things, but purging; and though he be troubled with faintness, it may be the way to get good spirits, is by eating ordinary dyet, and cooling his bo∣dy, that so some distemper may be cured, and he may get his veyns filled with good blood, and spirits got from it, rather then by drinking hot waters that are full of spirits, which perhaps burns his heart, and dries his body, that there is no good blood generated from his dyet.

It is not enough therefore to say the thing is in it selfe bet∣ter, but is it better in all the references I have, and it hath? is it better in regard of others, in regard of the publique, for the helping me in all my relations? May it not help one way, and hinder many ways? If a Physitian should come to a man, and see his disease is hot, and shold therefore presently cool him by giving him water, the man may like it for the pre∣sent; Page  87 why is it not better to be cool, then so burning hot? but thus the Physitian discovers his folly, and the Patient loses his life. A Physitian in prescribing some physick had need have forty considerations in his head at once, how one part stands affected to the other, of what yeers the man is, of what com∣plexion, how long the disease bath been upon him, what was last done to him, &c. So it should be in the duties of Religion, a Christian who desires to walk orderly, to beautifie and ho∣nour his profession to enjoy communion with God, & peace in his own soul, and be useful to the publique, had need have his wits about him, not presently to fall upon a work, be∣cause it is now presented as good to him in a single considera∣tion; he must compare one thing with another, and see what it is in all its references; or otherwise he will but enterfeir, hee will but hack and hew, and bungle, and disturb himselfe and others in the ways of Religion, he will make Religion tire∣some to himselfe and others, he will be in danger in time to cast off strictnesse, and to grow so much the more loose then others, by how much more streightned he hath been in a dis∣orderly way then others. I believe some of you have known those who in their young time have been very strict and tend∣er; whatsoever they have conceived to be better then other, they have presently followed it with all eagernesse, never considering circumstances, references, or consequences, but the thing is good, it must be done; yet being wearied with this, they have after grown loose, in as great an excesse, the other way; yea, it may be have vanished and come to no∣thing.