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SE R M O N XVII.
Keep thy Heart with all Diligence, &c.
Prov. iv. 23.
Keep thy Heart with all Diligence, &c.
precept, it is requisite that we should somewhat xvii. explain the terms, and settle the meaning thereof; in doing that we begin with the last words, which qualify the action enjoined as to its degree, or extent ; with all diligence; the words (nown-529) answering to these in the Hebrew, do, according to the various use or force of the particle a, admit a threefold acception. They may (1.) denote absolutely the intenseness in degree, or extension in kind, of the per.. formance required in this precept : πάση φυλακή τήρες can xapdicu, Omni custodia sirva cor tuum ; keep thy heart with all custody; that is, with all sorts or with all degrees of care and diligence; so the LXX. Interpreters, and the vulgar Latin following them, render those words. They may (2.) taking the particle for a Mem excellentiæ, as they call it, lignify comparatively, præ omni custodia serva cor tuum; keep thy heart above all keeping; that is, especially and more than thou keepest any other thing ; so doth Pagnin uzderstand them, not without cause, both for the reason subjoined here, because from it are the isues of life; that is, because it is the principal part and foun
SER M. tain of all vital operations, and therefore deserveth
in other places of Scripture frequently, we are enjoined
To the first I answer, that in the style of Scripture
the heart doth commonly import the whole inward Rom. vii. man, the é čow äv pw os, the man within us, as St. Paul i Pet. iii. 4. fpeaketh, the ó xquartos tñs xapdías årspwmos, the hidden
man of the heart, as St. Peter calleth it, comprehending all the thoughts and imaginations, all the inclinations and dispositions, all the judgments and opinions, all the passions and affections, all the resolutions and purposes formed within us; in short, all interior, whether tendencies to move, or actual mo
tions of human soul. For the Scripture (by the way we s ERM. may observe it) seeineth to favour that anciently most XVII. common and current opinion, embraced by Aristotle himself, even as true in strict philosophy, although rejected by most of the latter schools, that the heart, that material part and principal entrail of the body, is the chief feat of the foul, and immediate inftrument of its noblest operations. However, because the heart in a man's breast is most inwardly feated, most fecluded from fight, guarded from access, fenced from danger, thence whatever is inmost, most invisible, most inaccessible in any thing, is called the heart thereof; and all a man's secret thoughts, inclinations, opinions, affections, designs are involved in this name; sometimes all, or divers of them conjunctly are called his heart; fometimes any one of them singly (as there is subject or occasion of using the word) is so termed: instances in every kind are innumerably many, and very obvious; and therefore I shall not spend time in producing any, but shall suppose that here the word may be understood in its utmost extent, so as to comprehend all the particulars intimated; there being no apparent reason for preferring or excluding any; all of them being capable of moral quality, both simply and immediately in themselves, and consequentially as they may be the principles of good or bad actions; and because all of them may be, need to be, ought to be, the objects of the keeping here enjoined.
But then, what is this keeping ? I answer, that the word as applied to this inatter is especially capable of three fentes, each of which may be exemplified.
1. It may imply to observe, that is, to keep it under a constant view, as it were ; to mark or attend unto, to enquire into and study our heart. So, My Prov. xxiii. for, faith the wise man, give me thy heart, and let thine 26. eyes keep (or obferve) my ways. The same word which here, is there used both in the Hebrew and Greek, and can there well fignify no other custody, but that of at
SER M. tending unto; it being the office of the eye only to xvii. look and observe. Likewise, Observe, faith God in
the Law, and hear all these words which I command thee; Deut. xii. that is, hear them very attentively: and so in divers
2. It may also denote the governance, or good management of our hearts; keeping all the motions thereof in due order, within fit compass; applying them
to good, and restraining them from bad things: fo the Psal. xxxix. Psalmist useth the word, when he faith, I will keep
mouth with a bridle ; that is, I will so rule and curb
it, that no evil language shall issue from it: so when Eccl. v. 1. the wise man adviseth to keep our foot when we go to
the house of God; by keeping it, he means rightly to guide and order our proceedings ; or well to dispose
Ourselves when we address ourselves to religious perProv. xxvii. formances : so again, He, faith he, that keepeth the fig
tree, shall eat the fruit thereof; he that keepeth it, that is, he that drefleth and ordereth it to advantage for bearing fruit.
3. Again, keeping may be taken for preserving, guarding, securing from mischief or damage : which indeed is the inolt cominon use of the word ; and therefore we need no instancing to countenance it.
Now any of these senses may be intended here, or all of them together; and they indeed are in the nature of the thing so coherent, or so mutually dependent one on the other, that any one of them can hardly be practifed without the rest : for without heedfully observing our heart, we cannot well govern it; and an ill governed heart cannot easily be attended to; and without both watchful observation, and skilful management of it, we cannot guard it from evil; and reciprocally without guarding it, we cannot well rule it, or duly mind it: such a complication there is in practice of these three custodies.
I shall at present only discourse concerning the first of them, which seems in the nature of things, and according to our method of acting, to precede. Accord
ing to this exposition, when it is said, Keep thy heart S ER M. with all diligence, we may understand it, as if each xvII. of us were thus advised : With a most constant and wary care observe all the interior propensions and motions of thy soul; whatever is done, or designed within thee ; whither thy desires lean, what thy affections are stirred by, to what thy judgment of things doth lead thee, with greatest attention and assiduity mark and ponder it.
It is a peculiar excellency of human nature, which seemeth more to distinguish a man from any inferior rank of creatures, than bare reason itself, that he can reflect upon all that is done within him, can discern the tendencies of his soul, is acquainted with his own purposes. Some shadows of other rational operations are discoverable in beasts; and it is not easy to convince them, who from plausible experiments do affirm them sometimes to fyllogize : but no good reafon or experience can, I suppose, make it probable, that they parțake of this reflexive faculty; that they do ever regard, or remark upon their own imaginations : they seem always to march directly forward with a blind impetuousness toward some pleasing object, without attending to the fancy that guides them, or the appetite which excites them : neither indeed do they seem to need any such power in order to the preservation of their life, or gratifying of their sense, which are the main ends they were designed and fitted for. But man being designed by his Maker, disposed by the frame of his nature, and obliged by a law imposed on him, not to follow casual impulses from exterior objects, nor the bare conduct of his imagination, nor the fway of his natural propensities, but to regulate as well the internal workings of his soul, as his external actions, according to certain laws or rules prescribed him ; to settle his thoughts upon due objects, to bend his inclinations into a right frame, to constrain his affections within due bounds, to rectify his judgment of things, to,