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.


Heart-divisions one from another.

WHen they divided from God, then they divided from his people, they would not joyn with his people in the way of his worship, only such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, went to Ierusalem to sacrifice to the Lord God of their fathers, 2 Chr. 11. 16. only those whose hearts the Lord touched; but others for their owne carnall ends would not joyn with them, they saw trouble attended that way; and ha∣ving divided themselves from God & his people, it was Gods curse upon them that they should be divided one from ano∣ther; if you be divided from the truth, what can hold you to∣gether?* Truth is a single, simple, plain thing, but error is va∣rious, and ensnarls it self with infinite contradictions: If peo∣ple goe out of the plaine path of truth, they wander up and down God knows whither, intangling themselves in bry∣ars and thornes, so as they cannot extricate themselves: As those ten Tribes which at first divided from Iudah only in their subjection to the house of David, and in their worship at Ieru∣salem, but after they denied all Scripture but only the 5. books Page  11 of Moses: They were exceedingly given, and generally addi∣cted unto sorcery, magick, and witch-craft, in which they grew more and more notorious till Christs time. This is in∣timated in that blasphemy of the Jewes against our Saviour,*Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a Devil, taxing him with the pra∣ctice of that people, who commonly being Witches, had fa∣miliar spirits attending on them, for otherwise they knew he was no Samaritan, but a Galilean of Nazareth: They were also exceedingly divided amongst themselves. Epiphanius recites four severall sects of them, the Ossens, Sebuaeans, Gorthenians, and Positheans; Truth is the bond that keeps to unity, but er∣rour is wilde, you know not where to find it, nor your selves if you give way to it: Our present times will be a testimony of this to all future generations. The wild and unruly divisi∣ons of our times is to be the subject of the future discourse. I am not ignorant nor unsensible of the difficulty, the trouble, the danger there is in medling with such a subject at such a time as this. He that meddles with the divisions of the times, may expect to be divided himself, to have his name, his re∣pute, to be cut asunder and thrown this way and that way: It is an unthankfull work to meddle with a divided people; a man may with as much safety put his hand into a nest of Hor∣nets.* A learned man being once asked why he did not write his judgment about the controversie of his time, answered, To what purpose? it would not help the cause, but much ha∣zard him that should meddle. That which one once said to Luther, when he was about interessing himself in seeking Re∣formation, sounds in my ears, when I first thought of having to do with this Argument,*O Luther, rather get you into your Cell, and say, Lord have mercy upon us.

It is a great part of the skil of a Minister to divide the word aright; but this skill of his will be put to it, when he comes to divide the word amongst a divided people, to give every part its portion. I should never have ventured to have cho∣sen a Text on purpose for such an argument; but seeing Pro∣vidence hath brought it so fully into my way, I shall now venture upon it, with my heart cast and fixed upon that pro∣mise, Pro. 11. 3. The uprightnesse of the upright shall guide him.

Page  12 I shall cast what I intend into this mould:

  • 1. The causes of our Divisions.
  • 2. The evill of them.
  • 3. Cautions about them, that we may not make an ill use of them.
  • 4. Remedies or cures of them.

The causes of our Divisions.

The principal cause from without, is the Devil, he seeks to keep his own kingdom free from divisions, but seeks nothing more then to cause divisions in the Kingdom of Christ. The Mahumetans, who worship a cursed impostor: The Pagans, who worship the Sun, Moon, and Stars: The Aegyptians, who wor∣ship Onions, Leeks, Cats and Dogs, never had such divisions amongst them as the worshippers of Jesus Christ have had, and have at this day amongst themselves; for all the former are the Devils kingdom, which he seeks to keep at peace; but he is that envious one who sows the seeds of division in the Kingdom of Christ; hence those who foment divisions a∣mongst Christians are called Devils, 1 Tim. 3. 11. The wives of Deacons must not be slanderers:* The word may be transla∣ted Devils: women are most liable to the Devils temptations this way, because they are weak, and are in danger to run a∣way with sudden apprehensions without due examination; and what can foment division more then slandering, so far as any, especially in the Church, hath a hand in causing or fo∣menting division, so farre as she is a Devil in Scripture-lan∣guage, the part of the Devil is acted by them. I remember Ca∣jetan hath a note upon that place in the Gospel, where the de∣vils being cast out of the man, who had a legion in him, pray∣ed Christ that they might not goe out of that region; why would they not go out of that region? says Cajetan; He gives this answer, The Devils have certain places to which they di∣vide their work, such Devils to such a place for such a ser∣vice, and such to another for another service; now these De∣vils were loath to be displaced of their region, though they were cast out of the man, having further work to do in that Page  13 place: If this be so, surely the Devills that are appointed to cause and foment divisions and dissentions above all regions, love to be in the region of Churches, for no where do divisi∣ons such hart as there, and at this time especially; for now the Devils see they cannot prevail to get men to their old su∣perstitious vanities; but some reformation there wil be, they now seek to mingle a perverse spirit of division amongst men, hoping they shall prevail here, though they could not hold their own in the former. God put enmity between Satan and the Saints, but it is the Devil that puts enmity between Saints and Saints. When we hear fearful thundring, and see terrible storms and tempests, many people say, that ill spirits are a∣broad; surely these blustering storms of contention are raised and continued from evill spirits: But the truth is, all the De∣vils in hel could do us no great hurt in dividing us from God or from one another, were it not for the corruption of our own hearts: Wherefore as the Lord says to Israel, Perditio tua ex te, thy destruction is from thy self: So may we now say of England, Divisio tua ex te, thy division is from thy selfe.

The causes of our divisions from our selves, may be refer∣red to three heads.

1. Dividing principles; sometimes our divisions come down from our heads to our hearts.

2. Dividing distempers, sometimes they go up from our hearts to our heads.

3. Dividing practises, and these come from head and heart, they foment and encrease both.

We will begin with dividing principles: Except some care be taken of the head, it will be in vaine to meddle with the heart, to cry out against our heart-distempers; the chief cause of many of our divisions lies here: It is to little purpose, to purge or apply any medicine to the lower parts, when the disease comes from distillations from the head.