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 wofull miseries that our divisions bring upon us.

THey are themselves fruits of the curse, therefore there can come no other but cursed fruits from them, except God, contrary to their nature, be pleased to over-rule them, which he only is able to do. It was the curse of God upon the ground, Briars and thorns shall it bring forth; It is no lesse curse of God upon mens hearts, that they bring forth such briars and thorns, by which they tear one another.

First, our divisions provoke the wrath of God against us; [ 1] though the wrath of man accomplisheth not the righteousnesse of God, yet it may accomplish the wrath of God. Esay 9. 21. Manasseh against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh, and they together against Judah; for all this his anger is not turned a∣way, but his hand is stretched out still. When we are thus one a∣gainst another, the anger of God is not turned away from us, we may feare his hand will yet be further stretched out against Page  218 us; so long as our wrath one against another continue so hot, certainly Gods wrath is not appeased.

We read of Abraham, when he was about sacrificing Isaac, he found a Ram entangled in the bryars, which God had pre∣pared for him to be a sacrifice: We are this day entangled in the bryars, and we know not how to get out, it is a signe that we are prepared to be a sacrifice even to the wrath of God.

[ 2] Secondly, by them we serve the designes of our enemies; what would they have given when they first divided from us, to have procured so great divisions amongst our selves, as have been, & yet are? If a Million would have purchased them, rather then they should not have been, they would (no question) have gi∣ven it; I am sure they further their designes more then many Millions would have done:

Hoc Ithacus velit, & magna mercentur Atridae.

We have often said that some who have kept at the Parliament have served the designes of the King and those about him better then they who were with him. Certainly those who foment divisions amongst us, do serve our enemies turne more then ma∣ny that are with them. When in our contentions our spirits rise one against another, and we reproach one another, we do not con∣sider,* sayes Nazianzen, how unsafe it is to put weapons into our e∣nemies hands. Yea he thought in his time, though neer thirteen hundred yeers since, the divisions of the Churches to be a great means to further and hasten the comming of Antichrist: for so he sayes in the same Oration before quoted, I verily fear lest Antichrist should come sodainly upon these our divisions,*and lest he should take the advantage of these our offences and distempers to raise his power over us. Let those therefore who cry down Antichrist so much, cry down divisions also, lest they prove to serve the designes of Antichrist in a very great-measure, though they think not so.

Thirdly, by these we make our selves a scorn to our enemies. Hosea 17. ult. The rage of their tongue shall be their division in the land of Egypt. When Malignants hear our rage one against another, we are a derision amongst them; these Egyptians jeere us, they contemne us, and all the power we can make a∣gainst them. I find in one of Melancthons Epistles, a story of one Bessarion, exhorting the Princes to concord, that they Page  219 might joyne against the Turks he brings in this Apologue: There was a war between the wolves and the dogs;* news came to the wolves that there was a hge army of dogs comming a∣gainst them, intending to tear them in pieces; the wolves sent an old wolfe out to be a scout, he comes and tells them there were indeed a great company of dogs more then themselves were, but they need not fear, for he perceived they were of different colours: Upon this the wolves made nothing of them, accounting it an easie matter to deale with them who were so differing amongst themselves. In the same manner, sayes Melancthon, doe Staphilus, and Canisius, and others of the pogish faction, triumph in respect of us; upon which he folls to prayer, That the Sonne of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, would governe them, and make all in our Churches to be one in him.

Fourthly, yea by these we are like to be made a prey to our e∣nemies. [ 4] Here many sad storyes might be told you of the prevai∣lings of enemies against divided people. The divisions of Israel at this time made them a prey to their adversaries, which you may see cleerly if you read 2 Kings 17. afterwards the divisions of the other tribes made them a prey to the Romans. When the Turks have prevailed over Christians, do not all stories tell us it hath been through the divisions of Christians? When Normans, Danes prevailed in England, it was by the advantage they had of our divisions; if we will still divide and contend, our condition may prove to be like two birds peking at one a∣nother, in the mean time the Kite comes and catches them both away.

Fiftly, if God should free us from our enemies, yet we are like [ 5] to devoure one another, and this is a greater misery then to be devoured by the common adversary. Gal. 5. 15. If ye bite and devour one another, take heed ye be not consumed one of another. What biting and devouring was this? It was not in an open hostile way, they did not take up Arms one against another, but by their different opinions and contentious carriages in matters of Religion. Their differences in the matters of Religion were Page  220 very great, Non de finibus, sed de haereditate, not about the bounds, but the inheritance it selfe; yet unpeaceablenesse and violence in their carriages one towards another, though the matter of their difference was so great, is condemned and threat∣ned by the Apostle. Do not our Adversaries say, Let them alone and they will devoure one another? God gives us good hope that he will deliver us from our enemies; but the hearts of many godly and wise men tremble within them, fearing lest that wolvish distemper of ours should feed upon our own flesh, when the matter that it had to feed upon from without is taken away.

[ 6] Sixtly, if we should not devour one another, yet being thus divided, we are like to perish of our selves, as those Insecta, which after they are cut asunder, yet the severall parts live, they wrig∣gle up and down a little while, but they cannot hold long. So it is like to be with us; except we joyn we cannot live.

[ 7] Seventhly, these divisions are like to make many miserable in∣deed; for if God be not mercifull to them, and that soon, they are like to be such a rock of offence, as to split them, upon which they are running; they are in very great danger to make ship∣wrack of their consciences, yea I fear some have done it alrea∣dy; if it be not so, the Lord be mercifull to them, and prevent it. The spoiled houses, the torn estates, the maimed bodies of men caused by our divisions, are sad objects to look upon; but the broken, maimed, spoiled consciences that these have caused, and are like further to cause, were and yet are like to be objects be∣fore us to be lamented with tears of bloud. This shipwrack of conscience it may be is not felt now, but it will prove horrour of conscience hereafter.

[ 8] Eighthly, they are like to lay a foundation of much evill to posterity, this consideration is almost as sad as any. We think it a great evill that Kings children shold be brought up in the sight of bloud, that they should be in danger to have principles of cruelty or tyranny infused into them in their tender age; we are afraid lest the muddy water they drink now should breed diseases in them that may break out afterward. Surely it is a great evill also for the children of the Church, to be brought up in the sight and exercise of divisions in matters of Religion; that that knowledge of Religion which they now take in, should Page  221 be as troubled waters full of soyle. In the beginning of this Parliament there was as hopefull a generation of young ones comming up as ever the Sun saw, but many of them have lost their lives in this publique Cause; God will certainly take a va∣luable consideration at the hands of the adversaries for their blood especially; we have cause to blesse God for them: God made use of them to stop the rage, the overflowing of the proud adversaries upon us; they have served their generation, and have been more usefull in it, then others who have lived 70. or 80. yeers formerly: but for those who are preserved, these divi∣sions in the things of Religion have spoiled many of them, they are carryed away with such a strange kind of spirit of error, of conceitednesse, folly, wilfulnesse, bitternesse, licentiousnesse, and boldnesse, that their hopefull beginnings are lost, so that the next generation is like to reap very sowr, bitter, and un∣wholsome fruits of these our quarrels and contentions. By what hath been said you may see why the Spirit of God, Prov. 6. 19. puts the sowers of discord amonst those whom God hates: What the harvest of such seed is like to be, we shall see in the next Head.

Aggravations of the misery that comes by our divisions.

FIrst, our misery is the greater, because it is still increasing; [ 1] Divisions make way for divisions; we beat our brethren till they cry, and then we beat them because they cry, is not this hard dealing? We read in our Chronicles that those who were born in England the yeare after the great mortality 1349. wan∣ted some of their cheek teeth;* if we should judge of mens teeth by their biting, one would think that now men had more teeth, or at least farre sharper then they were wont to have; there was never such biting as now there is. Yet thanks be to God this increase is not in all places, not in our Armies; time was when we were much afraid of divisions there, but now we hear they are comfortably united, Dividing terms are not heard amongst them as formerly; though there be differing judge∣ments, their hearts and armes are open one to another, they love one another, they are willing to live and dye one with another. Page  222 The blessing of the Almighty be upon you; go on and pro∣sper, the Lord is with you; he hath done great things by you, and delights to use you in great services, for the honour of his Name and good of his people. You have had, and have the pray∣ers of the Saints, they blesse you, and blesse God for you. Soul∣diers united in love, and hating that which is vile, are exceeding∣ly strengthned in valour.

Plutarch reports of a Theban band that were but three hun∣dred, yet were the most terrible to the enemies, of any, and did the greatest services: They were called the Holy Band, because they hated dishonest things, and were willing to venture their lives for honest causes, fearing dishonourable reproach more then honourable danger. But though this was one cause why it had that name,* yet Plutarch thinks that the first cause why it was called the Holy Band, was from their intire love one to ano∣ther. By the selfe same reason (sayes he) that Plato calleth a lo∣ver a divine friend by Gods appointment, These Thebans, toge∣ther with other of their Countreymen, had a great power of the Lacedaemonians to resist such a power as the Athenians, for feare of it, left off to protect them, renouncing that league that they had before with them. Every man, said the Thebans, were un∣done. But these despised Thebans meeting with the Lacedaemo∣nians about the City of Tegyra, where according to the com∣pute of some they were sixe to one, and a warlike valiant peo∣ple, one came running to Pelopidas the Captain of the The∣bans, saying, Sir, we are falne into the hands of the Lacedae∣monians. Nay, are they not falne into ours? sayes Pelopidas. And so it fell out, for they utterly routed them. In all the warrs that the Lacaedemonians ever had, as well with the Grecians as with the barbarous people, no Chronicle ever mentioned that they were overcome by any number equall in battell. Whereupon these Thebans grew so terrible to their enemies, that none durst for a long time encounter with them. After this battell Pelopi∣das would never seperate them one from another, but keeping them together he would alwayes begin with them, to give a charge in his most dangerous battells. Yet notwithstanding all this service they had ill requitall from the people, for when their Captain Pelopidas came home, they stirred up a party against him, that sought to break him, though they could not prevaile. Page  223 It is farther reported of this Band, that it was never broken nor overthrowne till the battell of Choeronea, where it seems they had some added to them. And see what love and valour will doe in an Army unto death. Philip taking a view of the slaine bo∣dies there, he saw foure hundred dead on the ground, one hard by another, all of them thrust thorow with Pikes on their breasts, and being told that it was the Lovers Band, he fell a weeping for pitty, saying, Woe be to them that thinke these men did or suf∣fered any evill or dishonest thing.

Ever since our Armies have been united, God hath wonderful∣ly blessed them. Shall men of warre be at peace? and is this comely? and shall men of peace be at warre? how uncomely will this be? Yet so it is, The seeds of dissentions never sprung up more against us then of late they have done. The spirits of men seeme to be heat and ready to boyle one against another in this City more then heretofore they have done. The Lord hath made London a blessing to the whole Kingdome, and the neigh∣bour Kingdomes too. The children not yet borne will have cause to blesse God for London, for their union, their faithfulness, their courage, their bounty: and shall now, when God is about brin∣ging in rest to us from the rage of our enemies, a fire of dissen∣tion be kindled amongst us? Shall the comfort of all our former mercies and future hopes be lost, by raising up of new quarrels? and must this come from the City? The Lord forbid. The Lord make you like Jerusalem, a City Compact, at unity within it selfe. Your very name carries unity in the face of it. Civis à coeundo, says Cicer: quod vinculo quodi societatis in unū coeunt quasi Coi∣vis. I remember I have read in Livy a notable speech of Scipio to the Citizens at Carthage. By what name, sayes he, shall I call you?* I know not: Shall I call you Cives, qui à patria vestra de∣scivistis? Things are not come to this passe in this City. The Lord forbid that there should ever be that degenerating from that unity and love heretofore hath been, that there should be cause to say, Shall you still be called Cives? qui à pristina unitate, à pristino amore mutuo descivistis, who have departed from your former unity and mutuall love. Oh no, Let brotherly love conti∣nue, Heb. 13. 1. Let none take your crowne, but abide glorious in the eyes of the whole Nation about you, and all strangers that come in to you. We pray for the peace of London, Let them prosper Page  224 that love it, Peace be within her walls, and prosperity within her Palaces. If any shall say, the City is not guilty herein, it is but some few private men: I gladly answer as Scipio in his forena∣med speech did to the Carthaginians, making such an objecti∣on, Libenter credam negantibus, I am very willing to beleeve it. Only do you make it appear to be so, by knitting your selves so much the more strongly together, by how much any amongst you seeks to disunite you.

[ 2] A second aggravation of the misery of our divisions, is, Surely none will pitty us in all that evill that comes upon us by them. If God should have suffered our enemies to have prevailed a∣gainst us, all the Protestant party in the world would have pit∣tied us. If those who escaped had fled for their lives to them, they would have entertained them with much compassion. But if we mischief our selves by our divisions, we shall be looked upon as contemptible in the eyes of all. If we should flye to them, we may expect to be entertained with rebukes; You are an unworthy generation, God put a price into your hands, to have done your selves and all the Protestant party good; you might have freed your selves from thraldome, and many wayes have been helpfull to us, but you had such proud, envious, quar∣relsome spirits, that you brake asunder one from another, you mischieved one another, and so have undone your selves and your posterity; yea are not worthy to live amongst men. Can we be able to bear such rebukes as these? Every man that is in misery desires to be pittied, but this misery is like to be such, as no pitty can be expected in it.

[ 3] Thirdly, our consciences will fly in our faces, telling us that we may thank our selves for all this. It is a great part of the torment of the damned, that their consciences shall be alwayes upbraiding them for bringing so much evill upon themselves. This shall be the gnawing of that worm of conscience for ever.

[ 4] Fourthly, our misery is and will be aggravated by the execu∣tioners of it: our familiars, our brethren, those who not long since were dear to us, will be made use of to make us miserable. How great a misery will this be? When the men of Judah came up to Samson, to deliver him to the Philistines, Judg. 15. 11, 12. sayes Samson to them, But sweare to me that ye will not fall upon Page  225 me your selves. He thought it a very grievous thing for the men of Judah to fall upon him. He did not so much regard what the Philistines could do against him. Certainly there is nothing in the world more sad then for one brother to make another mi∣serable. The History of that Warre between Sylla and Marius tells of one having slaine a man not knowing him, but after he looked and found it was his brother, in the anguish of his heart, because he had slaine his brother, he took his sword and ran it into his own bowels. It is a great evill to be an instrument of evill to our brethren, and to suffer evill from our brethren.

This consideration might be enough to stop us in our divisi∣ons, and cause us to think of wayes of joyning. Plutarch in the forecited place, the life of Pelopidas, sayes, that the Poets write that the misfortune of Laias who was slaine by his brother Oe∣dipus, was the first originall cause that the Thebans began to be in such love one with another, to joyn in that Holy Band before mentioned. If this were cause enough to take us off from our contentions, we have enough of this amongst us. The Lord be mercifull to us.

Fiftly, the misery of our contentions in the Civill State is such, [ 5] as if we be overcome, we are undone, for our outward conditi∣on, we and our posterity are made slaves; if we do prevaile, yet there is sadnesse in our conquest. That is a miserable war, which is thus. The Civill Wars of the Romans were such, Nullos habi∣tura triumphos, there was no triumph, but sadnesse even in the victory.

Sixthly, what help can there be? for we wilfully make our [ 6] selves miserable; if men will undoe themselves, who can helpe it? Except God comes in from heaven with a mighty hand to help, our wound is incurable.

Thus you have seen what evill and bitter things our divisions are; their root is evill and bitter, and they are the root of much evill and bitter fruit. We reade Gen. 38. 29. that Pharez was the son of Tamar; Pharez signifies division, fraction, from whence he had his name;*Tamar signifies a Palm tree, Ab ama∣ritudine, sayes Pagnine, according to some, from bitternesse; Di∣vision comes from bitternesse, and begets, like it selfe, nothing but bitternesse.