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SERM. other places of Scripture frequently, we are enjoined to
keep our tongues from bad discourse, our eyes from wan. dering after bad objects, our feet from declining to bad courses; and therefore probably in comparison to these, although needful and inferior custodies, we are admonished to this most especially incumbent custody of our hearts. They may also, (3.) and that probably enough, be taken so as to denote the universality of the object, or matter of this keeping, or the adequate term and bound thereof; keep thy heart, árò wartòs Quadyuatos, ab omni re custodienda, from every thing which it should be kept from; that is, from every thing offensive or hurtful to it: so did Aquila and Theodotion translate the words. These senses are all of them good, and each may fairly pretend to find place in the meaning of the words; which of them with most likelihood I fall not discuss, meaning only to infist upon the substance of the precept; the nature of which being duly considered, will infer that it is to be observed according to the manner and measure prescribed, understood according to any of those senses, or according to all of them conjointly.
As for the meaning of the words, Keep thy heart, two inquiries may be made: 1. What the heart is, which Solomon adviseth us to keep: 2. What to keep it doth import.
To the first I answer, that in the style of Scripture the
heart doth commonly import the whole inward man, the Rom. vii. o šow ăvaporos, the man within us, as St. Paul speaketh, the .: ο κρυπτός της καρδίας άνθρωπος, 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 afections, all the resolutions and purposes formed within us; in short, all interior, whether tendencies to move, or actual motions of human soul. For the Scripture (by the way we may observe it) seemeth to favour that anciently most common and current opinion, (embraced by Aristotle himself, even as true in strict philosophy, although reje&ted by most of the latter schools,) that the heart, that material
part and principal entrail of our body, is the chief seat of SERM the soul, and immediate instrument of its noblest opera- XLIV. tions. However, because the heart in a man's breast is most inwardly seated, most secluded from fight, guarded from access, fenced from danger, thence whatever is
inmost, most invisible, most inacceslible in any thing, is I 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; sometimes any one of them singly (as there is subject or occasion of using the word) is fo 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 fimply 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 matter, is especially capable of three senses, 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 inquire into and study our heart. So, My son, saith the Prov. xxiii. Wise Man, give me thy heart, and let thine eyes keep (or observe) my ways: the same word which here, is there, used, both in the Hebrew and Greek, and can there well signify no other custody but that of attending unto; it being the office of the eye only to look and observe. Likewise, Olferve, faith God in the Law, and hear all Deut. xii. these words which I command thee; that is, hear them 28. very attentively: and so in divers other places.
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
SERM. restraining them from bad things: so the Pfalmift useth XLIV. the word, when he faith, I will keep my mouth with a Pfal. xxxix. bridle; that is, I will so rule and curb it, that no evil lan
guage Thall issue from it: so when the Wise Man adviseth Eccl.v. 1. to keep our foot when we go to the house of God; by keep
ing it, he means rightly to guide and order our proceed
ings, or well to dispose ourselves when we address our. Prov. xxvii. selves to religious performances : so again, He, faith he,
that keepeth the fig-tree, shall eat the fruit thereof; he that keepeth it, that is, he that dresseth and ordereth it to advantage for bearing fruit.
3. Again, keeping may be taken for preserving, guard. ing, securing from mischief or damage; which indeed is the most common 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 practised with. out 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. According to this exposition, when it is said, Keep thy heart with all dili. gence, we may understand it as if each 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 affiduity 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 SERM. all that is done within him, can discern the tendencies of XLIV. 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 reason or experience can, I suppose, make it probable, that they partake 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 172 any such power in order to the preservation of their life,
or gratifying of their sense, which are the main ends they I were designed and fitted for. But man being designed by ** his Maker, disposed by the frame of his nature, and ob(z' liged by a law imposed on him, not to follow casual im
pulses from exterior objects, nor the bare conduct of his e imagination, nor the sway of his natural propensities; but
to regulate as well the internal workings of his soul, as de his external actions, according to certain laws or rules o prescribed him, to settle his thoughts upon due objects,
to bend bis inclinations into a right frame, to constrain his e affections within due bounds, to rectify his judgments of
things, to ground his purposes upon honest reasons, and the direct them unto lawful matters : it is needful that he Eg should have this power of discerning whatever moveth or Blog passeth within him, what he thinks upon, whither he inEls clines, how he judgeth, whence he is affected, wherefore the doth resolve; without this power he could not be a i moral agent, not able to perform any duty, not properly
fubje&t to any law, not liable to render an account of his op doings : did he not perceive his own thoughts, how could the dispel them, when they are bad or vain? might he not a observe his own inclinations, how could he strive to re
strain them or to reform them, when they draw to unlawful se practices? were he not sensible of his affections, how could como he endeavour to reduce or compose them, when they be
SERM. conie exorbitant or tumultuous ? were he not conscious of XLIV. his own opinions, how could he weigh and examine them?
how could he conforın his actions to them, or practise according to the di&tates of his conscience? It is therefore plainly needful that man fhould be endued with this power, for that without it he can neither perform the duty required of him, nor enjoy the benefits he is capacified and designed for: our Maker therefore hath conferred it upon us, our duty consists in its right use, our advantage ariseth from the constant and careful exercise of this excellent faculty: constant and careful, I say: constant, for obfervation implies so much ; for, if ever we shut our eyes or turn our heads aside, what we look to may be gone; much therefore will pass away undiscerned and unobserved by us, especially such quick and fleeting things as are the interior motions of our soul will escape; wherefore a continual vigilancy is requisite to a keeper of the heart : it must also be careful; as the keeper of a thing fo nimble and flippery must not seep, so he must not sumber; he must not be oscitant, but very intent upon his charge; superficial glances upon the outward face, as it were, of the soul, will not suffice: to observe, is with earnest care to look through the matter, to discern whatever lurketh therein, to pierce into the very depth and bottom of it, to spy through every nook and corner therein ; otherwise it is but slightly viewed rather than truly observed: especially fo subtile, so intricate, so obscure a thing as a man's heart is, requireth an extraordinary application of mind in observing it with judgment and fruit.
This is then our duty, recommended by the Wise Man: to be continually, with extreme diligence, looking inward upon ourselves, observing what thoughts spring up within us; what imaginations find most welcome harbour in our breasts; what objects most affect us with delight or displeasure; (what it is that we love and readily embrace; what we distaste and presently reject ;) what prejudices do pofsefs our minds; wherefore we propose to ourselves such undertakings, conversing with ourselves, and, as it were, discoursing in this manner: What is it that I think upon?