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 third Dividing Distemper,* Envy.

ENvie is a squint-eyed foole, Job 5. 2. Envie stayeth the silly one. Jam. 3. 14. If yee have bitter envying and strife in your hearts. Envy is a bitter thing, and causes strife, and makes that bitter too: So vers. 16. Where envying and strife is. Gal. 5. 20. Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings. 1 Cor. 3. 3. There is among you envying, strife, divisi∣ons. Envy made divisions between Angels and men; it was the fist sinne, not the first born of the Devill, but that which trned Angels into Devils. The first heart-division amongst men was between Gain & Abel, and what caused it but envy? Who can stand before envy? she is subtil, undermining, dares not appear at the first: but if she cannot be satisfied with her under-works, then she flings, ends, frets, and fights, uses vio∣lence, seeks to raise a contrary faction, fals on any thing in the world so be it mischief may be done, let become of Gods glo∣ry, of service to the publike, of saving souls, rather then that Page  124 steem, respect and honour that otherwise might be had, should not be obtained; all must come under, all must be serviceable to this base lust, rather then the glory of an envious man must be eclipsed, God himself and his blessed Truth must be dark∣ned: O hideous wickednesse and high impudence against the God of Heaven! Envy divides in Counsels, in instruments, actions, in all proceedings; she will make use of good to oppose that which is good; if she cannot raise evil men to oppose good, she will seek to get good men to oppose; she would make God contrary to himselfe, she would strike at God with his owne sword. Phil. 1. 15. Some preach Christ out of envy. As Envy makes use of good for evill, so God makes use of this evill for good: Many seek to excell in preaching, or other∣wise, by this means; and sayes S. Paul, Howsoever I doe rejoyce, and will rejoyce. If Envy cannot reach others by imitation, she will reach them by calumniation. Zoilus the common slande∣rer, being asked why he spake evil of such and such men? Be∣cause, sayes he, I can doe no evill to them. If there be any good done, that she seeks to blast, together with the instruments of it; if any evil, that she rakes into, and feeds upon, like that Bird Ibis in Africa, that eats Serpents. Luther sayes, envious men feed upon the dung of other men; they are like flies, that love to be upon sores. Erasmus tels of one, who collected all the lame defective verses in Homer, and passed over all that were so excellent. When you see a man seeking to rake and gather together all he can of any distempers, disorders, mi∣stakes, miscarriages by hear-sayes, letters, or any way, so be it he may fill up his dung-cart; and for the good, the graces or gifts of God in men, those are laid aside, or slightly passed o∣ver, if at all mentioned, it is with some dirt mingled: Surely this is an envious man fitted for strife and debate, whom God permits to be an affliction to his people, in raising up a spirit of strife and contention, and causing divisions amongst them, like the Kite, who passes over faire Medowes, and pleasant fields, not regarding them, till she meets with a carrion, there she fals and fastens, now she is upon her prey where she would be: How pleasant is it to some men to hear of, or find out e∣vil in others whom they doe not love? To say no worse, you know how it hath been an old practise, to seek to get any Page  125 thing by reports, or any other wayes that might blast the pro∣fessors of Religion; and how glad were they? how did it please them at the heart if they could meet with any thing that might serve their turne?

This is a very shamefull distemper, some men will upon oc∣casion confesse they fear other men, and others that they love not other men, or that they contemn others, but no man will acknowledge that he envies others, there is too much shame in this, to be owned by any. The impiety and wickednesse is not lesse, it is a monstrous wickednesse for a man to complaine of God, that he made the world no better; and yet such wicked∣nesse there is in some mens hearts, but what is it then to com∣plaine of, and quarrel with God, that he hath made the World, or any part of it so well? This the envious man doth.

An envious man cannot endure to see others better then him∣selfe, or to have more respect then himself. It is reported of Licinius an intimate familiar with Constantine the Great, who also married his sister, but fell off to be a desperate enemy a∣gainst Christians, alledging this to be the reason, because in their Assemblies they prayed for Constantine, and not for him. Envious men, whether they deserve respect or no, yet if others have it, and not themselves, they rage, and are mad.

There is no vice but hath some kind of opposition to some other, as covetousnesse to prodigality, &c. but Envy only op∣poseth that which is good, and all good, therefore there is no∣thing in it but evil, and an universal evil. Gulielmus Parisiensis brings in Gregory, saying, That all the poyson in the old Serpent is in this sinne, as if it had emptied it selfe of its poyson, and vomited it in this sinne, so much venome there is in it.

Is it not a very evill thing, that in mens opposition against what they see others desire, they should give this reason why it should not be suffered,* because if it be, the greater part of the most godly people in all places will joyn with it? This brings to mind what I have read in Ecclesiasticall History: in the Second Century, The Emperour Adrian would have build a Church for the honour of Christ void of Images, because such was the custome of the Christians; but his friends disswaded Page  126 him, saying, If he did so, all men would forsake the Temples of the gods, and become Christians. I find in that learned piece of Voetius, Desperata causa papatus, a notable story of Ray∣erius a Popish Inqui••tor, he exclaims against the Waldenses, those poor men of Lios (as he calls them) He sayes there was never any more pernicious Sect then that;* and I pray why? He gives 3. reasons; First, That it is very ancient; Some say (says he) it hath continued from the time of Sylvester; others, from the times of the Apostles. Secondly, It is so generall, there is scarce any Countrey but this hath got into it. Thirdly, whereas others are guilty of blasphemy against God, upon which they are abhorred, these appeare to be holy men, they live justly, their beliefe of God is right, they believe all the Articles in the Creed; We can finde no fault with them either for their lives, or for their Doctrine, onely they are a∣gainst the Church of Rome, in which the people are ready to joyne with them. These are strange accusations; for do not they themselves make all these the signs of the true Church? and yet are these poor men so vile, because such things are found amongst them. Surely, it is Envy that imbitters the spirits of men against others, because they see in them those things which they cannot but acknowledg to be good, and herein the great evill of Envy, that malignity of it, by which it cau∣seth such great contentions does appear, they are angry they can find no evill in them, whereby they may get advantage a∣gainst them.

The holy Ghost say, that envy is rottennesse to the bones; the same learned man Guliel. Paris. applyes this to such as are chief in Church and Common-wealth, who are as it were the bones, the strength, the support of the societies whereof they are; Envy, says he, is often found amongst them, and it is rottennesse to them. This vile sin hath caused a rot in many men of emi∣nent abilities and places, who might otherwise have done much service for God & his people in Church and Common∣wealth: oh it is a michievous sin. Take away envy, says Augu∣stine, and what is mine, you have; take away envy, and what is yours, I have. We read Acts 11. of Barnabas, that hee was a good Page  127 man, and ful of the holy Ghost, and he was a man of a clea∣ving disposiion, of an uniting temper, ver. 23. He exhorted them that with full purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord: This man was free from envy, for the Text sayes, when he had seen the grace of God, he was glad: He rejoyced in, and blessed God for the grace he saw in his Saints. Do you envy for my sake, says Moses? I would to God all the people of the Lord did prophesie. Moses was a fit man for publike service, who was so void of envy; No men are so fit for publike employment as such who can bles God that he is pleased to make use of others as wel as, yea beyond themselves. It was a good speech of that gracious holy, old Disciple Mr. Dod lately deceased, I would to God says he, I were the worst Minister in England; not wishing himselfe worse then he was, but all Ministers better.

The fourth dividing Distemper, Passion.*

PRov. 29. 23. An angry man stirreth up strife. Passion is so op∣posite to Union, that Prov. 22. 24. the holy Ghost would have us make no friendship with an angry man.

First, this fire of anger burns asunder the bands of union, [ 1] the bands of relation, as Nebudhadnezzars fire did the bands of the three Children. A froward heart car•• not for any relati∣ons. What makes divisions between husband & wife, brother and brother, servants and Masters, and Mistresses, neighbour and neighbour, but passionate forwardnesse?

Secondly, this fire burns asunder the bands by which mens [ 2] lusts were tyed up and kept in; it sets mens lusts at liberty. The lusts of mens hearts are like a bed of snakes in the cold, but the heat of passion warming them, causes them to crawl and hisse. What a stir would the Lions in the Tower mak, and the Bears in Paris-garden, if they were let loose? Passion lets mens Li∣on-like lusts loose. Philosophers say of the inferiour Orbes, that were they not kept in, restrained in their motion by the Primum mobile, they would set all the world on ire: If our lower affections, especially this of Anger, be not kept in and ordered by Reason and Religion, they wil set all on ire. Pas∣sion Page  128 makes men and women to be lawlesse, boundlesse, care∣lesse.

Men know not what they doe in their anger; this raises such a smoak, that they cannot see their way; the more cor∣rupt the heart is, the greater and the more noysome is the smoke raised by this fire in the heart. Put fire to wet straw, and filthy stuffe, oh what a filthy smoke arises!

Lev. 13. 25. we read of a leprosie breaking out of a burn∣ing; seldome doe mens passions burne, but there is a leprosie breaking out of that burning, and what union can there be with such? It froward people were dealt withall like the Le∣pers, shut up from others, we should have more peace. Some men when once their anger is got up, they will never have done, we can have no quiet with them; this fire in them is like that of hel, unquenchable. The dog-dayes continue with them all the year long. Seven devils can better agree in one Mary Magdalen, then seven froward people in one family. If one should set the Beakons on fire upon the landing of every Cock-boat, what continuall combustions and tumults would there be in the Land? Those men who upon every trifle are all on a fire by their passions, and what in them lies set others on fire, do exceedingly disturb the peace of those places where they live, those societies of which they are. Their hot passions cause the Climate where they live to be like the torrid Zone, too hot for any to live near them. Christ is the Prince of Peace, and the De∣vil is the Prince of divisions. Hence that expression of the holy Ghost, Ephes. 4. 27. Let not the sun goe down upon your wrath, nei∣ther give place to the devil: you are loth to give place to your brother, you will say, What, shall I yield to him? you will not yeeld to him, but you will yeeld to him that is worse, to the Devil. So you doe when you yield to wrath.

There are divers other dividing distempers that we shall speak to;* but for the present let us make use of the great mercy of God towards us that yesterday we solemnized in a publick Thanks∣giving; let us see how we may improve this glorious work of God for the closing of our spirits, the healing our divisions. It cals to us aloud to joyn, oh let your hearts joyn. There are 12: Arguments in this great work of God, to perswade us to union.

Page  129 First, there hath appeared much of Gods presence in this [ 1] his great work. I will praise thee O Lord, for thou hast done it, Ps. 52. 9. The Lord hath appeared wonderfully, his naked arm hath been revealed, his right hand hath become glorious in power. Those who were present saw much of God in this work. They send to us to give God the glory, and all the Countrey about sent still to tell us how much of God they have seen in this.

But how is this an argument for us to unite?

Suppose children or servants were wrangling one with a∣nother,* were not this an argument to make them be quiet, Your Father is here? your Mr. is come? will not all be whist presently? God is come amongst us, wee may see the face of God in what he hath done for us, and shall we be quarrelling before his face?

But 3. days before this great goodnesse of God, by speciall [ 2] Order from the House of Commons, there was a day set apart to humble our souls before the Lord, and to seek him for this mercy that now we rejoyce in, & in our Humiliation was not this one great sinne we did confess our divisions? did we not then acknowledg that it were righteous with God because of our divisions, to give us up as a prey to our adversarie? Now then, have not our divisions overcom Gods goodnes, lest Gods goodness overcome our divisions? Suppose there had been a day of Humiliation set apart to mourn under the heavy hand of God against us in delivering us up into the hands of our enemies, as (through his mercy we have had a day of Thanksgi∣ving, to blesse him for our deliverance from them) would not this sinn have been the matter of a great part of the comfession of all your Ministers? Oh the divisions that are amongst us! Thou hast dealt righteously with us. Our wraths were up one against another, and just it is with thee O Lord to let out the rage of the Adversary upon us; & shall we yet continue in that after a mercy, which we have confessed might justly have pre∣vented the mercy? shall we stil be guilty of that wch our con∣sciences tell us would have been the burden of them, as the just ause of our misery, if the Lord had come against us in his sore displeasure? God forbid. Let not that evill now be found Page  130 in us, that would have galled our consciences, if mercy had been denyed us.

[ 3] 3. We are delivered from being devoured by our enemies; shal we now devour one another? oh unworthy we of such a deliverance as this. It went ill with us in the beginning of the fight, but God looked mercifully upon us, his bowels wrought, if I come not in for their help. These ungodly men wil devour my servants, howsoever they have been faire to some, because yet they have not attained their own ends; but if they prevail here, they will account all their own, and then they will begin to exercise that cruelty that yet hath not been heard of, but it shall not be, my heart cannot bear the cries of my servants under such cruelties as I foresee. Do you think this was Gods end in delivering us from being devoured of our enemies, that we may be devoured one of a∣nother? We read Ezek. 5. 3, 4. the Prophet was bid to bind up a few hairs in his skirt, which was to signifie a few of the people which were preserved from that common calamity, but after these were cast into the fire, and fire came forth from these to all the house of Israel. Polanus upon the place hath this note, that grievous evils may come upon those who have been pre∣served from former common miseries, and those who for a while have been preserved by their contentions and divisions, may be the cause of woful evil to others. God forbid that this Text should be fulfilled in us. Let not a fire come from us, who yet are so graciously preserved, to devour the house of Israel.

[ 4] 4ly. God in this work of his hath joyned severall sorts of instruments, men of severall opinions; he hath made them one to do us good, why should not we be one in the enjoyment of that good? Let the one part, and let the other part have their due honour under God, in the mercy God hath made use of both, and why may not both enjoy the fruit of this mercy to∣gether in the Land?

[ 5] Fiftly, We were not without some feares, lest God should leave us in the work of Reformation begun; but now God speaks aloud to encourage us, he tels us he owns the worke. Now what doth this require of us? A little Logick will draw the consequence, Hath God declared himself that he intends to go on in this work he hath begun? Then let us all joyn to∣gether, Page  131 to further it, to the uttermost we can; let us not ex∣asperate the spirits of one another in ways of strife and oppo∣sition, but let every one set his hand and hand to this worke, that he may be able to say. Oh Lord God, thou that knowes the secrets of all hearts, knowest that upon this great mercy of thine, my heart was so moved, that whatsoever I could possibly see to be thy will for the furtherance of this great work of Reformation, and that I was able to doe, I did set my selfe to doe it, and am resolved to spend my strengh and life in it. If every one did thus, oh what glory might God have from this mercy of his!

6ly. When the Lord comes to us with mercies, and such [ 6] great mercies, he expects we should rejoyce in them, and sing praise; but how can we sing without Harmony? Prayer re∣quires an agreement. Mat. 18. 19. If two of you shall agree on earth touching any thing they shall aske, it shall be done for them. Surely Praise requires agreement much more. Psalms out of tune are harsh to the eare; disagreement of heart is much more to the Spirit of God.

7. Surely when God hath done so much for us, it must be [ 7] acknowledged to be our duty, to study what sacrifice would be best pleasing to him; some sacrifice we must offer: If there be any more acceptable to him then other, surely he deserves it no. If a friend had done some reall kindness for you, you would be glad to know what might be most gratefull to him, wherein you might testifie your thankfulness: Is this in your hearts? Do you now say, Oh that we did but know what is the thing that would be most pleaing to God; what sacrifice would smell sweetest in his nostrils! The Lord knowes we would fain offer it, whatsoever it be. I will tell you, That we would lay aside our divisions, our frowardnesse, that we would aband∣on our contentions and strife, that we would put on the bowels of mer∣cies, kindnesse, humblenesse of minde, meekenesse, long-suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another; If any man hath a quarrell against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye, Col. 3. 12. And 1. Pet. 3. 4. A meee and a quiet spirit is in the ight of God of great price, it is much set by,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Psal. 15. 17. The sacrifice of God, that which is in stead of all sa∣crifices, is a broken spirit. Our hearts have been broken one from another in our unhappy divisions, oh that now they Page  132 could break one towards another in love and tenderness! Here would be a sacrifice more esteemed of God, then thousands of Rams, and ten thousand Rivers of Oyle: Loving mercy, and walking humbly is preferred above such sacrifices, Micah 6. 8.

[ 8] 8ly. God might have sode'd us together by the fire of his wrath, he might have made our blood to have been our ce∣ment to have joyned our stinty hearts together; but it is o∣therwise, God seeks to draw us to himselfe, and one to ano∣ther by the cords of love, the allurings of his mercy.

[ 9] Ninthly, what can have that power to take off the sowr∣nesse of mens spirits like mercy; the mercy of a God? surely if any thing possibly can sweeten them, that must needs do it. We read 1 Sam. 11. 11, 12, 13. a notable experiment of the efficacy of mercy to sweeten mens hearts. After Saul had slain the Ammonites, some of the bosterous spirits would have had him to have slain those who formerly had rejected him; but mark Sauls answer, ver. 13. There shall not a man be put to death this day: Why? For this day the Lord hath wrought salvation in Is∣rael. Though Saul at another time was a man of a harsh and cruell spirit, yet now mercy sweetens him; that which he was one day by the sense of mercy, that should we be not only in the day of our Thanksgiving, but in the course of our lives. When salvation came to the house of Zacheus, O what a sweet temper was he in! Behold, halfe of my goods I give to the poore, and if I have wronged any one, I restore foure-fold. Salvation is this day come to the Kingdome, O that all we had hearts to say, If wee have wronged any, wee will restore; if wee have wronged any in their names, by word, or writing, any way, we will restore: Mercy and love calls for mercy and love; if we were in a right tune, there would be a sympathy between the bowels of God and ours; as in two Lures, if the string in one be wound up to be answerable to the other, if you then strike one string, the other will move though lying at a dist∣ance: Now Gods love, Gods bowels move, let our love, our bowels move answerably.

[ 10] 10. God shewes that he can owne us notwithstanding all our infirmities: Was ever Kingdome in a more distempered condition then ours hath been of late? and yet the Lord hath Page  133 owned us: Why should not we own our Brethren, notwith∣standing their infirmities? Why should our divisions cause u to call off one another, seeing our divisions from God hath not provoked him to cast us off?

11. Is it not in our desires, that this great Victory might [ 11] be pursued, that it might not be lost, as others (in great part) have been? Surely it cannot be pursued better, then to take this advantage of it, to unite our selves more together then e∣ver we have done. This would strike as great a terror into the hearts of our Adversaries as the victory hath done.

Lastly, we had need take heed of breaches, lest God should [ 12] be provoked to change his administrations toward us; if there be so much choller in the stomack, that sweet meats are turn∣ed into choller, it were just with God to come with bitter and sowr pils to purge out our choller. We read Jude, ver. 5. The Lord saved the people out of the land of Egypt, yet after∣ward he destroyed them that believed not; the Lord hath gran∣ted us a great salvation from our Enemies, who would have brought us into Egyptian bondage. We have been singing the song of Moses, we have been praising God according to that, Apoc. 15. 3. but let us take heed that yet God be not provoked against us, for we are not out of all danger; as they by not be∣lieving, so we by not agreeing, but contending and quarrell∣ing may at lst be destroyed. You know how the Lord of that servant to whom 10000. talents were given, tooke it, that he should presently go to his fellow-servant who ought him but a hundred pence, and lay hands on him, and take him by the throat, and say, Pay that thou owest, and cast him into prison, Mat. 18. 28. If men be not mollified by this mercy, they will be hardened, they will use their brethren worse then they did before, the rather, because they would declare to all the world, that they make no such interpretation of this mercy, as that God would have them have further tender regard towards, to seek union and peace with, to beare with or yeeld unto their Brethren more then before; it is not unlikely but temptation may be suggested to do some act the more against them, either now or within a while, to wipe away any conceit of any such an interpretation of this gracious work of God for us. But those who are of gracious & peaceable spirits, should take the Page  134 hint of this, and goe to all they know, who have been at di∣stance one from another, of whom they may have hope to doe good, and seek to mollifie their spirits, to know what it is they have one against another, what prejudices, what hard thoughts have been entertained by them, and by all meanes they are able to remove them, that so we loving & delighting in one another, the Lord may love us, and delight in us, nad shew mercy to us yet more and more.