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.
Page  117


Selfe-love,* the second dividing distemper.

THis is neer akin to the former: Phil. 2. 3. Let nothing be done through strife: Ver. 4. Looke not every man on his owne things, but every man also on the things of others: This is the cause of strife, because men looke so much on their owne things. Many will have no peace, except their own party be follow∣ed; Jehu-like, What hast thou to do with peace? follow me. It is not Peace, but Party that they mind. Maxima pars studiorum est studium partium: The greatest part of their studies, is to stu∣dy sides and parts. Luther upon Psal. 127. hath a notable speech,*I am of that opinion, sayes he, that Monarchies would conti∣nue longer then they doe, were it not for that same litte Pronoun [E∣go] that same [I] (my selfe.) Yea certainly could this same Selfe be but laid aside, all governments and societies would not only continue longer, but flourish better.

Selfe-love is the cause of our divisions.

First, where this prevails, men love to take in all to them∣selves, but let out nothing from themselves; this must needs divide societies in Church and State, for they are Bodies; if [ 1] one member in the body takes in all to it selfe, and lets out nothing from it self to other members; as suppose the arme or leg takes in all the blood and spirits that comes into strengthen it selfe, and when it hath got them in there keeps them, and lets out none to another member, how soon would the members drop one from another? The whole world is maintained by mutual communication of one creature to a∣nother; take away that, and the world dissolves presently.

2ly. Those who are acted by self-love, have no common [ 2] ends to joyn them, therefore they cannot close; if they be im∣ployed in publike service, they quickly warp to their private ends. Take two boards never so straight, yet if one be season∣ed and the other green, they will lye close a while, but ere long you wil find that the unseasoned wil divide from the o∣ther by warping, especially when heat coms to it. Thus many at the first, Oh who but they for the publike, for the common Page  112〈1 page duplicate〉Page  113〈1 page duplicate〉Page  114 their actions, and of his too. Thus the blustering winde of pride in mens hearts causes them to justle one against another, and so to split themselves one upon another; as where many ships lye together, a violent wind breaking their Anchor-ca∣bles, causes them to dash one upon another, and so to make shipwrack even in the Haven.

[ 9] 9. A proud man opposes others, because they have begun such a worke; and others, who are also proud, oppose him, because he hath begun it. The Senators of Rome could have been content to have admitted Christ to have been amongst the number of their gods, but only upon this, they refused be∣cause the motion began not with them. Many amongst us have no other reason why they oppose good motions, but because they were not first in them; They are loth to break the yee, to begin a good work, if they see any difficulty in it, and yet the cause of God must not goe on, Christ must not be admitted, if they have not been at the beginning: Like two men carrying a long piece of timber in at a narrow passage, one man will goe before, and the other man will go before, they can never carry it in, because they cannot agree who shall goe formost.

[ 10] 10. One proud man is conceited of what he doth, because it is his own way; and another proud man is conceited of what he doth, because it is his own way, and so men draw di∣vers ways, and the publique cause of God and his people must give way to their conceitness. Pride makes a man drunk with his own conceits, Hab. 2. 5. The proud man is as he that trans∣gresseth by wine; and Drunkards you know are quarrelsome. Wonder not at an absurd thing in a proud man, for pride makes him drunk. Prov. 13. 10. Proud men who cause con∣tention,* are opposed to the well advised, But with the well ad∣vised (cum consultis) is wisdome. The Sept. reads it, The wise are such at know themselves, but the proud do not.

[ 11] 11. Proud men will venture upon things unseemly, think∣ing their esteem and greatnesse will bear them out; and others who are proud will venture upon the like, upon the same ground, for every man is eady to have high thoughts of him∣self. Psal. 19. 14. Deliver me from presumptuous sins, a superbis, so some, Ab insolentibus, so others, from proud, from insolent Page  115 sins.* Pride makes insolent. A proud man, sayes the Philoso∣pher, is a faigner of boldnesse and valour, and therefore will foo∣lishly venture upon any thing.*

12. If there is any thing to be done that is conceived to be mean and low, a proud man will seek to put it upon others, [ 12] and others who are proud will seek to put it upon him, and if it be a work of credit, then he seeks it to himself, and others seek it to themselves, and hence are jarrings and divisions.

13. If there be any good successe in any thing, then pride [ 13] makes one man attribute it to himselfe, and another man at∣tribute it to himself; and if the successe be ill, then one puts it off from himself, and and another from himself, and thus quarrels and contentions are raised and fomented.

14. One proud man thinks himself the only worthy man [ 14] to have his counsel followed, and his desires satisfied, and the other he thinks himself the man that should have his counsell followed, and his desires satisfied, and thus men struggle and oppose one another.

Lastly, one proud man is very discerning in the discovery [ 15] of pride in another; and though he entertains it in his owne bosome, yet he hates it in others wheresoever he sees it: This is a peculiar curs upon this sin, one Drunkard loves another, one whoremaster another, but one proud man hates another. This is exemplified notably in Boniface the second, Bishop of Rome, he says of Aurelius Bishop of Carthage, and of the rest of those who were present at the sixth Councel of Carthage, that through the instigation of the Devil, they swelled with pride against the Roman Church, he means against the supremacy of it, for it was spoken upon the submission of Eulalius Bishop of Carthage, to the Chair of Rome. Behold the proud Bishop of Rome, who would have all the preheminence himself, swells with pride against the pride of others.

Here we see what a make-bate Pride is; That which Tertullus said to Felix, Act. 24. 2. is true of Humility, By thee we enjoy great quietnesse; but the contrary is as true of Pride, By thee are made wofull divisions, by thee we suffer miserable disturban∣ce. Though there be no occasion of quarrel, yet pride wil make some; only by pride comes contention, as before, Pro. 13. 10. Page  116〈1 page duplicate〉Page  117〈1 page duplicate〉Page  118 good; but there being a principle of Selfe within, like the sap in the board, when they began to feel heat, some difficulties rising, they warpd to their own ends, and divided from those they were imployed with. Mens private ends are narrow, they cannot drive on them, but they wil meet with one ano∣ther, & justle one another, quarrel, contend, and fight for the way▪ as Car-men doe when they meet in narrow streets, and Boat-men in narrow passages. If we had publique ends, our way would be broad enough,* we might to on peaceably and comfortably without, without prejudice to one another. If a man lived alone, then he might goe on quietly in his way, only God would meet him in it; but seeing men live in the world amongst others, they must consider, that if they will drive on their own designs, & work their own end, other men have designs and ends to drive on and work as well as they: it is therefore impossible but you will crosse and be crossed, you will vex and fret at others, and others will vex and fret at you. Whatsoever is such, sayes Tullie, wherein many cannot ex∣cell, in that there is for the most part such contention, as society can hardly be kept entire.

[ 3] 3ly. Self makes every man judg of things according to wht is in himself. I have read of Blackmores, when they paint an Angel, they paint him black like themselves; and when they paint the Devil, they paint him white, as much different from themselves as they can: Thus men acted by Selfe, the foulest, blackest opinon, yet if sutable to their judgments, they wil set out like Angels with the fairest glosses that may be; and that wch is truth, if disagreeing from them, they will paint it out in the foulest manner that can be; they labor so to besmear it, that if it be possible it shall looke like a Devil. If a selfish man be conscious of not having that wch is commendable, he will not believe that others hath it: As Nero being abominably fil∣thy, would not believe there was any chast man in the world: whatsoever evil he doth, he thinks all men if they had the like opportunity, would do the same; if they have plots to fetch a∣bout their own ends, they think every man is plotting too.

[ 4] 4. Selfe makes much stir and trouble, for it is a very odi∣ous thing; Omne affectatum odiosum: as vermine are odious, be∣cause they only take into themselves, consume thinge, and Page  119 are no way useful to any thing else. When any thing doth but smell of Self, it begins to be loathed, let a man have never such excellent parts, do never such excellent things, yet if Self ap∣pears, the loveliness and glory of all is gone; therefore those men that act selfe, they had need be very cunning, to keep in and hide it; herein appears what a vile thing Selfe is, that though in truth it acts all, and receives the incomes of all, yet it dares not appeare, but lies sculking under all the covers it can; how vile▪ is this selfe, for which all must be done, which thou makest thy God, yet cannot in the least appeare, but is odious and abominable to every one? yea it is consci∣ous to it self, that it is so, and therefore dares not appear; yet the acting of it is very mischievous to all humane Societies.

Fiftly, There is this wickednesse in self-love, that even [ 5] those things that men acknowledge to be right and good in the generall, yet if in the particular they shall not sute with something they would have, it will put men upon the oppo∣sing it; and what peace and union can there be amongst men, if what they will grant and commend to be good, yet when it falls crosse to them, they will oppose and contend against? Thus Acts 26. 7. Ʋnto which promise our twelve Tribes instantly serving God night and day hope to come, for which hopes sake I am accused of the Jewes. The twelve Tribes, the whole body of the Jewes constantly grant the promise of the Resurrectio, and yet in malice to me they accuse me of this; or if not so, yet they are willing that I should sink in this cause: Just as many Ministers were wont in their Pulpits to commend high∣ly the wayes of Religion, to exhort men to grow up in god∣linesse, to be carefull of all their wayes; but when some of their Parishioners did but practice in the particular, what themselves had commended to them in the generall, they would hate them, and persecute them for it. God deliver us from such a spirit.

Sixtly, Selfe causes men who are in publique employment [ 6] to keepe up their private jarres and grudges, to interrupt the publike, they will crosse one another in their work for the publike; let that suffer, so they may let one another feel of their private grudges: In this Christians are beneath Heathens. I have read of Aristides and Themistocles, who had many jar∣rings Page  120 between themselves, but being both employed in the work of the Common-wealth, in an Embassage, as they went over the Mountains, one sayes thus to the other, Let us lay downe all our private grudges upon these mountaines, at least till our businesse be over, and if there shall be just cause when we have done our worke for the Common-wealth, we may then examine them. It were happy with us, if all men in publique employment in this Land would from their hearts speak thus to one ano∣ther, but men are selfish and cannot do it: Hence comes so many of our breaches and divisions.

[ 7] 7ly. Selfe causes men not to see their own evils; or if they do, to indulge themselves in them, but to be quick-sighted and severe in the discovering and opposing those evils there are in others, and this causes many breaches and fallings out. We may apply that of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 13. Love covereth a multitude of faults to selfe-love. Selfish men see little evill in themselves, al is ever well with them whatsoever others do; and the more they cocker themselves, the more severe they are to others; but Christ would have the quite contrary, severi∣ty to our selves, but indulgence to others; those that are so, are the most peaceable men. Mat. 18. 8. If thy hand or foote of∣fend thee, cut them off, and ast them from thee; or if thine eye offend thee, plucke it out. We must deale severely with our selves in those things that are as neer and dear to us as our hands and eyes; but Vers. 15. When Christ gives order how we are to deale with our Brethren, he then requires more moderation; If thy Brother offends thee, goe and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; If he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, and see what thou cast doe with him that way; yea, and after that tell the Church, not presently cut him off, or cast him away, as you must do when your hand or eye offends you; If men have any indulgence, let it be exercised towards their Brethren; if they have any severi∣ty, let them exercise that against themselves. I remember I have read of Pliny, that he says of himself, That he so passed by other mens offences, as if himselfe were the greatest offender; and hee was so evere against himself, as if he meant to pardon none. If it were so with us, we should live at more peace one with ano∣ther then we do.

Page  121 8. Selfishnesse causes reservednesse; great self-lovers never [ 8] care for communion but with such as are either far above them, that so they may get from them, and have credit by con∣versing with them, or with those that are under them, for they will admire them, they may rule amongst them: In the compa∣ny of either of these, they will let out themselves fully; but if there be an equality, then you shall have little from them, there is nothing to draw forth Selfe, there soone growes a strangenes between them and such, union will not hold where communion is not free; if there be but an interruption of the freedome of communion, the union will soon break.

You will say, These were wont to be very entire friends, how came they to break? what hath either of them done? what unkindnesse hath befalne them?

None at all, onely that principle of Selfe was not so fully fed as it would be; upon that they began to be reserved, and so strange, and at last quite fell off from one another, from for∣mer love and friendship, and then every little thing caused grudgings between them.

Ninthly, Self sets mens wits on work in all cunning craf∣tinesse, [ 9] to fetch others about to their own ends, and this goes as much against a mans spirit as any thing: When he comes to discern it, no man can abide to be circumvented, to be as it were rid upon, to be made serviceable only to another mans ends: the more cunning there is in it, the more odious and abominable it is to a mans spirit, when it comes once to be perceived, a man cannot bear it. Crooked windings are the goings of the Serpent: But if a man shall not onely seek to make use of another to serve his own turne by him, but after he hath done that, then to cast him off to shift for himselfe; this is so provoking a thing, as it make breaches irreconci∣able.

10. When one is for Self in his wayes, he teaches another [ 10] to be so in his; As a man by conversing with the froward, learns to be froward: so many who have heretofore had plain hearts, full of love & sweetnes, yet by being acquainted much with selfish politique men, learn to be so too; I see how he hooks in himselfe in every thing, fetches about this way and that way, but still gets it to come to selfe; I perceived it not Page  122 at my first acquaintance with him, and then my heart was let out to him fully, but now I see every man is for himself, and why should not I be so too? and what then is like to become of the publique?

Surely this selfishnesse is very vile in the eyes of God; God hath made us members of a community, the Universe is maintained by union, therefore the creatures will venture the destroying themselves in going contrary to their natures, rather then there should not be union in the world; that which they do in a natural way, we should do by the strength of reason, much more by grace. Philosophers say there can∣not be a vacuity in the world; The world could not stand, but would be dissolved, if every part were not filled, because Nature subsists by being one; if there were the least vacuity, then all things should not be joyned in one, there would not be a contiguity of one part with another. This is the reason that water will ascend when the ayre is drawn out of a pipe, to fill it; this is to prevent division in nature; O that we had but so much naturalnesse in us, that when we see there is like to be any breach of union, we would be willing to lay down our self-ends, to venture our selves, to be any thing in the world that is not sin, that we may help to a joyning: O foo∣lish heart, that in such a time as this art selfish, when the dan∣ger is publike! As in a storm, when the Ship is in danger, if every Mariner should be busie about his own Cabbin, dressing and painting that, what infinite sottish folly were it? and is it not our case? It were just with God to leave thee to thy self hereafter, if thou wilt look so much to thy selfe now. Ezek. 22. 16. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thy selfe in the sight of the Heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: This is in a way of threat, as appears if you compare it with vers. 14, 15. Woe to us if God leaves us to our selves. I have heard of a story of a fool being left in a chamber, and the door locked, and all the people gone, he cries out at the win∣dow, Oh my selfe, my selfe, O my selfe, nothing else came from him but O my self. Such fools have we amongst us now, nothing but Selfe is in their thoughts, their hearts and en∣deavourt. The Apostles complaint, Phil. 2. 21. may justly Page  123 be ours, All seeke their own, not the things which are Iesus Christs: Their own things,* that is, says Chrysostome, their pleasure and their security, their temporal commodities, their profits, their honours: So others, why are not the comforts, the safeties, the honours of the Saints the things of Christ, doth not Christ own them? Are they not under his protection and care?

Ans. Yes, and he would own them more, if we owned them lesse; the more we deny them, the more hath he a care of them: we may by our giving them up to the honour of Christ, make them to be amongst the number of his things, and then they would be precious indeed: but by desiring them, using them, rejoycing in them, in reference to our selves, Christ accounts them not amongst his things, things of a higher na∣ture are his things, the glory of his Father, the propagation of the Gospel, the spiritual good of his people, and the things of eternall life, they are his things; let us make his things ours, and he will make our things his.