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TRE A TISE, &c.
FRov. iv, 23. Keep thy beart with all
diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life.
THE heart of inan is his worst part before it be regenerate, and the best afterwards ; it is the seat of principles, and fountain of actions. The eye of God is, and the eye of a christian ought to be, principally fixed upon it.
The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God ; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God. Here lies the very pioch and stress of religion ; here is that that makes the way to life a narrow way, and the gate of heaven a strait gate. Direction and help in this great work, is the scope and sum of this text; wherein we have,
1 An exhortation, Keep thy heart with ail diligence.
2 The reason or motive inforcing it, For out of it art the issues of life.
In the exhortation I shall consider,
OCT !7 1906
what the heart is er man : for, look,
1 The matter of the duty.
The manner of performing it.
The matter of the duty, Keep thy beart. Heart is not here taken properly for that noble part of the body which the philosophers call, the first that lives, and the last that dies : but by heart, in a metaphor, the scripture sometimes understands some particular noble faculty of the soul : in Rom. i. 21. it is put for the understanding part ; Their foolish heart, that is, their foolish understanding, was dark. ened. And, Psal. cxix. 11. it is put for
the memory ; thy word have I hid in my 1 heart. Ard, 1. Jolin iii. 20. it is pue
for the conscience, which hath in it botli the light of the understanding, and the recognitions of the memory; If our heart condemn us, that is, if our conscience, whose proper office it is to condemn. But here we are to take it more generally for the whole soul, or
the body, that the soul is to the man; and wliat health is to the heait, chat holiness is to the soul. The state of the whole bocly depends upon the soundness and vigor of the heart, and the everlasting state of the whole man upon the good or ill condition of the soul.
And, by keeping the heart, understand the diligent and constant use and improve
ment of all holy means and duties, to preserve the soul from sin, and maintain its sweet and free communion with God. Lavator in loc, will have the word taken from a besieged garrison, begirt by many enemies without, and in danger of being betrayed by treacherous citizens within ; in which danger, the soldiers, upon pain of death, are commanded to watch. And whereas the expression, keep thy beart, seems to put it upon us as our work, yet it doth not imply a sufficiency or ability in us to do it : we are as able to stop the sun in its course, or inake the rivers run backward, as hy our own skill and power to rule and order our hearts; we may as well be our own saviours, as our own keepers : and yet Solomon speaks properly enough, when he saith, keep thy beurt ; because the duty is ours, though the power be God's. A natural man hath no power, a gracious inau hath some, though 110c sufficient; and that power he hath, depends upon the exciting and assisting strength of Christ : grace within us is beholding to grace without us, John xv. 5° "Without me ye can do nothing. So much! of the matter of the duty.
The manner of performing it is, suitb ali diligence. The Hebrew is very en
let them go.
ert in it, these must needs miscarry
phatical, Keep with all keeping-keep keep ; set double guards, your hearts will be gone else. And this vehemency of expression, with which the duty is urged, plainly implies how difficult it is to keep our hearts, and how dangerous to
2 The reason or motive, quickening to this duty, is very forcible and weighty ; For out of it are the issues of life, that is, it is the source and fountain of all vi. tal actions and operations ; saith Jerom, it is the spring and original both of good and evil, as the spring in a watch that sets all the wheels in motion. The heart is the ireasury, the hand and tongue but the shops ; what is in these came froin thence ; the hand and tongue always begin where the heart erds : the heart contrives, and the members' execute, Luke vi. 45. A good wan out of the good treasusy of liis heart, bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasury of his heart, bringeti forth evil things : for out of the abundance of his heart his month speakeih. So then, if the heart
in theits; heart-erro
rrors are like the era lors of the first concoction, which cannot be reclified afterwards : or like the mis. placing and inverting of the stanips and
letters in the press, which must needs cąuse so many erratas in, all tie copies, that are printed off. Oh then, how important a duty is that which is contained in the following proposition ?
Doct. That the keeping and right mana aging of the heart in every condition is the great business of a christian life.
What the philosopher saith of waters, is as properly applicable to hearts ; it is hard to keep them within any bounds : God hath set bounds and limits to them, yet how frequently do they transgress, not oply the bounds of grace and religion, but even of reason and common honesty ? this is that which affords the christian matter of labour, fear and trembling to his dying day, It is not the cleansing of the hard :hat makes a christian, for many a hypocrire can shew as fair a hand as he ; but the purifying, watching, and right ordering of the heart ; this is the thing that provokes so many sad complaints, and coșts so many deep groans and brinish tears, It was the pride of Hezekiah's heart tha: made him lie in the dust mourni ing before the Lord, 2 Chron. xxxii. 26. It was the fear of hypocrisy invading the lieart, that made David cry, let my heart be found in thy statutes, that I be not ashamed, Psal. cxix. 80. It was the sau