On Keeping the Heart
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I. THE DUTY HERE ENJOINED. The heart is the seat of the thoughts, the will, and the affections. The avenues which lead to this habitation are the senses, through which a great variety of objects are ever soliciting admission. By the original frame of our nature, there was also another way of admission into the heart, viz., faith. Over these was placed the judgment, as a faithful sentinel, to direct the will Scarcely, however, had this happy constitution of our nature existed when, the judgment being perverted, the will was induced to make a wrong choice. Upon this great revolution in our nature, sensible objects began to occupy our chief attention. They tend to produce the utmost irregularity in the affections, and to banish God, and heaven, and eternity, from the mind. To keep the heart while in this state, would only be to shut up the enemy within the wails. The enemy must be ejected. This God promises to do. To keep the heart with all diligence is to set a constant guard on every avenue which leads to it. It is to exercise the strictest vigilance over our thoughts, and to subject them to the most rigid scrutiny, for the purpose of suppressing, upon its first appearance, what is base, impious, or unjust, and of giving every possible encouragement to the slightest emotions of piety and benevolence. So nice and delicate are the heart's springs of action, so susceptible is it of impressions from external objects, and so greatly is it in danger of being disordered by means of these, that we can never be sufficiently apprised of the manner in which it may be kept with safety.


1. By summoning up to the view just apprehensions of God, of His greatness, and glory, and holiness, and justice, and authority, and mercy, and love, as exhibited in the plan of redemption, and endeavouring to have these apprehensions habitually impressed upon the mind.

2. We should beware, after having been engaged in any of the solemnities of religion, of exposing them suddenly to the renewed incursion of loose and worldly thoughts, by foolish talking or mixing with vain and giddy associates.

3. We must beware of evil company. And there are secret, as well as open, enemies of goodness.

4. We must carefully abstain from idleness, and rightly occupy every portion of our time.

III. RECOMMEND THE DUTY TO SERIOUS ATTENTION. You live in a world where ten thousand objects are ever ready to pollute the heart, and to seduce it from God. God requireth the heart of man — the whole heart, and nothing but the heart. A heart that is not kept with diligence is not reconciled to God; is not impressed with the love of Jesus; is not sanctified by the Spirit, and is not fit for heaven.

(James Somerville, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

WEB: Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.

On Keeping the Heart
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