Richard Baxter’s Cure of Church Divisions was published in 1670, in the hope of preventing presbyterians and congregationalists leaving the Church of England after the 1662 Act of Uniformity.

Here is the first of a series of extracts that will appear from time to time on this site:

“It is Satan’s way to transform himself into an Angel of Light (that is, one that pretendeth to make higher motions for Light and for Religious strictness, than Christ himself doth;) and that his Ministers are sent forth by him as Ministers of Righteousness (2 Cor. 11. 14, 15, 16) who will seem more Righteous than the Preachers of truth. Satan will pretend to any sort of strictness, by which he can mortifie Love. If you can devise any such strictness of opinions, or exactness in Church orders, or strictness in worship, as will but help to kill men’s love, and set the Churches in divisions, Satan will be your helper, and will be the strictest and exactest of you all: He will reprove Christ as a Sabbath breaker, and as a gluttonous person, and a Wine-bibber, and a friend (or Companion) of Publicans and Sinners, and as an enemy to Caesar too…  You think when a wrathful envious heat is kindled in you against men for their fault, that it is certainly a zeal of Gods exciting: But mark whether it have not more wrath than Love in it: and whether it tend not more to disgrace your brother than to cure him, or to make parties and divisions, than to heal them: If it be so, if St. James be not deceived, you are deceived as to the author of your zeal (James 3. 15, 16) and it hath a worse Original than you suspect.”