by Jeremiah Burroughs
Some antiquated old English spelling updated. Words such as "vertues, moneths, againe, joyning, heare, perswaded, ayme, Soulders, medled, sonnes" have been updated to the modern English spelling.
Whether the fiery trial of contention, or of persecution be greater, is hard to determine; God hath wrought for us to free us from the one, we have brought upon ourselves the other. Every man is angry that others are not of his mind; we have been so divided, that it is the infinite mercy of God that our enemies have not come in at our breaches, and divided all among themselves, before this time. Were our divisions only between the good and bad, they were not so grievous. Chrysostom says,* It is better to be hated for Christ, then to be beloved for him. How much better then is it to be hated for Christ, then to be beloved for sin? The reason he gives of that strange assertion of his, is, If thou beest loved for God, it is an honour to thee, and thou art a debtor for that honour; If thou beest hated for him, God is a debtor to thee, he owes honour to thee, for so he is pleased to be to his poor servants. But our divisions have been and still are between good men, even God's Diamonds do cut one another; good men cause afflictions to good men; every man is plotting, working, winding for himself. Every man strives like Apelles and Protogenes who shall draw the subtilest line to attain his own ends, but few strive who shall draw the straightest, who shall in the most direct course work himself and all his ways to God and public good. Who can meddle with this fire that is kindled among us, and not burn his fingers? A mans good affections happily may be approved, but his prudence will be questioned. But what I find Luther writes in an Epistle to his friend Nicolas Gerbelius in the like case, shall satisfy me, Cupio ego inveniri Christi & Ecclesiæ suæ fidelis, si prudens esse non potuerim minister: I desire howsoever to be a faithful Minister of Christ and his Church, if I cannot be a prudent one. The standing in the gap is more dangerous and troublesome then the getting behind the hedge; there you may be more secure, and under the wind, but it is best to be there where God looks for a man.* That which Pelopidas said to his wife taking her leave of him as he was going out of his house to the Wars, is a speech worthy of all men in public place: She comes weeping to him, and prays him to look will to himself; he answers her, My good wife, it is for private soldiers to be careful of themselves, not for those in public place, they must have an eye to save other mens lives. It may be when you are going about a work that hath hazard and trouble in it, your wives or some friends of yours will with great affection desire you, beseech you, to have a care of yourselves, that you bring not yourselves into trouble or danger, oh take heed of that, rather never meddle, let others do that work if they will; you should answer, It is for private men to take care of themselves, but men in public places are called to look to the public, that it suffers not through their neglect.
Some come into the gap, not to make it up, but to keep it open, yea to make it wider; the Lord deliver me from such a spirit: God knows I had rather die, then be a cause of so great an evil. What this endeavour of mine may work in mens hearts, God knows. If it meet with a son of peace, I hope it will speak peace, it will establish peace in such a heart: if with a son of strife, it may work ad modum recipientis. That which is intended to be an Irenicum, may prove to be a Polemicum, a bone of contention.
Those things which God himself ordains for union (the Sacraments) are by mans corruption made the occasion of the greatest contention in the Christian world. No marvel then that what comes from mans sincerest intentions and best endeavors be turned quite cross.
Like enough these leaves may meet with some boisterous Reader, that may beat them one against another, that may pry and pick to find that in them which is not, looking thorough the contradictions of his own spirit he may think he sees the like here. Let the lines be never so straight, yet he will wrest and pull them what he can to make them lye cross. I am so far from being solicitous that they are so indeed, that the special thing I desire of thee is the laying one thing to another, the comparing one thing with another. Remember what the subject is, Divisions, Differences. I have in it to deal with various spirits, opinions, ways: remember the scope is to seek the composing of them what I can. If you see me now near to the one side, and by and by near to the other, which yet are very wide from one another, be not rash to judge, that I am off my center; read on, and see what the issue may come to.
This path of mine hath been upon sharp stones, cutting shells, and pricking thorns; yet thorough the help of the shoe of the preparation of the Gospel of peace, I do not find my feet cut.
Peace is precious to me, I feel the sweetness of it; I am willing to do what I can to honour it. The public jars, contentions, disturbances abroad in Church and Commonwealth are very grievous. They say there are in the world such things in Families also. I have brought here some water: if my line had been longer, my bucket had been fuller. You have here what I delivered: some things are added, especially quotations of Authors and Histories. When they grow to be many I think them fitter for the Press then the Pulpit. I was the more willing these things should come forth to public view, because otherwise what other men apprehended to be my mind, would be put into their own words, and so rendered in an evil appearance. But will Printing help? The boldness of this age is such, as not only to make a mans words sound otherwise then when they came from him, and so traduce him; but confidently to aver that there are such things written in such Books, of such men, which never yet came into their thoughts, much less into their pen. With what boldness hath it been said and printed again and again, that I in that Book entitled, The glorious name of God, The Lord of Hosts, did call the Earle of Essex the Lord of Hosts. Surely the sight of these men is extramittendo, not intramittendo, they send forth species of their own dyed with the evil of their hearts, and then they say they find them in such a book. No man can find that name given by me to him. I indeed endeavoured to encourage him in his work , because the Lord had made him the Lord of our Hosts, which is no more then the Lord of our Armies. The utmost that ever was said or writ comes but to this, that God had put a name upon him that came near to his, but never mentioned without some difference from it. An abuse in this kind, though not altogether so high, I have had from the Anti-Apologist; he quotes many places in my Lectures upon Hosea, he sets down the pages, wherein he says, I have contrary to what is in the Apology preached for that way you call Independent. Would any man but think, when he sees the Book named in Print, the Lecture, the very page mentioned, but that the thing is true, it is to be found there? But to this day it hath never come to my ears that ever any man hath found such things there but himself. Are those the places? Let moderate and quiet spirited men look into them, and they shall find nothing there but what the generality of Presbyterian Brethren, yea I think I may say every one, who is not either Prelatical or very violent, will acknowledge to bee truth, and if so, I am free. But we shall have another time for this. At this time I would gladly that this Treatise might meet with no spirit exasperated, but in calmness and quietness let what is here be examined. That God that can create the fruit of the lips to be peace, can make the fruit of the pen to be so. My aims are peace, which I shall never cease endeavouring and praying for, who am
Thy friend, glad of any opportunity for thy good,
Table of Contents
To the Reader
Chapter I: The Text opened, and suitableness of it to our Times, shown.
Chapter II: The evil of dividing between God and any thing else
Chapter III: Heart-divisions one from another
Chapter IV: Dividing Principles - The first, There can be no Agreement without Uniformity
Chapter V: The second dividing Principle: All Religions are to be tolerated
Chapter VI: The second Position, Conscience is a tender thing, and must not be meddled with
Chapter VII: They who are for a Congregational way, do not hold absolute liberty for all Religions
Chapter VIII: The Third Dividing Principle is, That nothing which is conceived to be evil, is to be suffered.
Chapter IX: Rules to know in what things we are to bear with our Brethren.
Chapter X: The fourth dividing Principle. Division is the best way to maintain Dominion.
Chapter XI: The fifth dividing Principle. That every man is bound to profess and practice always what he apprehends to be truth.
Chapter XII: The sixth dividing Principle. What is in it self best must be chosen and done, not weighing circumstances or references.
Chapter XIII: The seventh Dividing Principle; It is obstinacy for a man not to be convinced by the judgement of many, more learned and godly then himself.
Chapter. XIV: The eighth Dividing Principle. If others be against what we conceive to be truth, we may judge them going against their own light.
CHAP. XV: Dividing Distempers, the lusts of mens hearts.
CHAP. XVI: The Pride of mens hearts the great dividing distemper.*
CHAP. XVII: Self-love, the second dividing distemper.
CHAP. XVIII: The Third Dividing Distemper, Envy.
CHAP. XIX: The fifth Dividing Distemper, (Rigidness;) the sixth Rashness; the seventh, Wilfulness; the eighth, Inconstancy
CHAP. XX: The ninth dividing distemper, A spirit of jealousy. The tenth, A spirit of contention. The eleventh, Covetousness. The twelfth, Falseness.
CHAP. XXI: Dividing Practices. The first, The Practice of the Tongue. The second, Needless Disputes.
CHAP. XXII: The third Dividing Practice, Men not keeping within the bounds that God hath set them.
CHAP. XXIII: The fourth dividing practise, Gathering of Churches disorderly.
CHAP. XIV: The fifth dividing practice, The aspersing and seeking to blast the credits of those men whom the Lord uses to be instruments of good.
CHAP. XXV: The sixth Dividing Practice, the giving Characterizing names to men, names of Division.
CHAP. XVI: The seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth dividing Practices.
CHAP. XXVII: The Evil of Divisions, They Hinder Much Good.
CHAP. XXVIII: The Sinfulness of our Divisions.
CHAP. XXIX: The woeful miseries that our divisions bring upon us.
CHAP. XXX: Cautions about our Divisions, that we may not make an ill use of them, but try if it be possible to get good out of them.
CHAP. XXXI: The Cure of our Divisions.
CHAP. XXXII: Joining Considerations.
CHAP. XXXIII: Joining graces.
CHAP. XXXIV: Joining Practices.
CHAP. XXXV: Exhortation to peaceable and brotherly union, shewing the excellency of it.