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the hidden man of the heart, as St. Peter calleth it, SERM. comprehending all the thoughts and imaginations, all the inclinations and dispositions, all the judg- 1 Pet. iii. 4. ments 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 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 rejected by most of the latter schools,) that the heart, that material part and principal entrail of our body, is the chief seat of the soul, and immediate instrument of its noblest operations. However, because the heart in a man's breast is most inwardly seated, most secluded from sight, 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; sometimes 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
SERM. to be, ought to be, the objects of the keeping here XLIV.
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 at
tend unto, to inquire into and study our heart. So, Prov. xxiii. My son, saith the 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. LikeDeut. xii. wise, Observe, saith God in the Law, and hear all
these words which I command thee; that is, hear them 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 restraining them from bad things: Psal. xxxix. so the Psalmist useth the word, when he saith, I
will keep my mouth with a bridle; that is, I will
so rule and curb it, that no evil language shall issue Eccl. v. 1. from it: so when 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 ad
dress ourselves to religious performances: so again, Prov. xxvii. He, saith 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
3. Again, keeping may be taken for preserving, SERM. guarding, securing from mischief or damage; which XLIV. 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 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. According to this exposition, when it is said, Keep thy heart with all diligence, 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 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
SERM. operations are discoverable in beasts; and it is not
easy to convince them, who, from plausible experi-
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 sway 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 judgments of things, to ground his purposes upon honest reasons, and direct them unto lawful matters : it is needful that he should have this power of discerning whatever moveth or passeth within him, what he thinks upon, whither he inclines, how he judgeth, whence he is affected, wherefore he doth resolve; without this power he could not be a moral agent, not able to perform any duty, not properly subject to any law, not liable to render an account of his doings : did he not perceive his own thoughts, how could he
dispel them, when they are bad or vain ? might he SERM. not observe his own inclinations, how could he strive XLIV. to restrain them or to reform them, when they draw to unlawful practices ? were he not sensible of his affections, how could he endeavour to reduce or compose them, when they become exorbitant or tumultuous ? were he not conscious of his own opinions, how could he weigh and examine them ? how could he conform his actions to them, or practise according to the dictates of his conscience? It is therefore plainly Deedful that man should 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 observation 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 so nimble and slippery must not sleep, so he must not slumber; 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