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Prov. iv. 23.

Keep thy heart with all diligence, &c.

BEFORE we do apply ourselves to inculcate this SERM.


precept, it is requisite that we should somewhat 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 (ppb) answering to these in the Hebrew, do, according to the various use or force of the particle, admit a threefold acception. They may (1.) denote absolutely the intenseness in degree, or extension in kind, of the performance required in this precept: πάσῃ φυλακῇ τήρει σὴν καρδίαν, Omni custodia serva 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, signifying 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 understand them, not without cause, both for the reason subjoined here, because from it are the issues of life;




SERM. that is, because it is the principal part and fountain of all vital operations, and therefore deserveth the best custody; as also for that in what follows, and in other places of scripture frequently, we are enjoined to keep our tongues from bad discourse, our eyes from wandering 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, ἀπὸ παντὸς φυλάγματος, 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 shall not discuss, meaning only to insist 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 inRom. vii. ward man, the i čow avρwmos, the man within us, as


St. Paul speaketh, the ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος,

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