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Keeping the Heart (Puritan Classics)

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"The greatest difficulty in conversion, is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God."On Keeping the Heart is a discourse upon Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Flavel intended this treatise for the specific purpose of illuminating, healing, and guarding the h "The greatest difficulty in conversion, is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God."On Keeping the Heart is a discourse upon Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Flavel intended this treatise for the specific purpose of illuminating, healing, and guarding the heart. He had the strong conviction, that saints should be marked by their holiness, therefore matters of the heart were of the utmost importance in the Christian life.


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"The greatest difficulty in conversion, is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God."On Keeping the Heart is a discourse upon Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Flavel intended this treatise for the specific purpose of illuminating, healing, and guarding the h "The greatest difficulty in conversion, is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God."On Keeping the Heart is a discourse upon Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Flavel intended this treatise for the specific purpose of illuminating, healing, and guarding the heart. He had the strong conviction, that saints should be marked by their holiness, therefore matters of the heart were of the utmost importance in the Christian life.

30 review for Keeping the Heart (Puritan Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    John

    This book rocked my world. It showed me how distracted my heart is, and how prone I am to wander. Flavel shows how at the center of everything we do, is our heart. Not the bodily artery, but the seat of all our emotions, desires, affections, words and actions. We are commanded in Proverbs 4:23 to keep it with all diligence. I need the Holy Spirit's help for this! "O for a better heart! O for a heart to love God more; to hate sin more; to walk more evenly with God. Lord! deny not to me such a hear This book rocked my world. It showed me how distracted my heart is, and how prone I am to wander. Flavel shows how at the center of everything we do, is our heart. Not the bodily artery, but the seat of all our emotions, desires, affections, words and actions. We are commanded in Proverbs 4:23 to keep it with all diligence. I need the Holy Spirit's help for this! "O for a better heart! O for a heart to love God more; to hate sin more; to walk more evenly with God. Lord! deny not to me such a heart; whatever thou deny me: give me a heart to fear thee, to love and delight in thee, if I beg my bread in desolate places." - John Flavel

  2. 5 out of 5

    Owen Lewis

    Rich, well-ordered, and deeply convicting. I enjoy the Puritans more and more with each book I read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Danette

    This little book begs to be read slowly. It would be a great discipleship tool as well. There are many nuggets of truth within its pages. I plan to read it again. 2019 - A book written by a Puritan

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abbie Lewis

    I really enjoyed this book. I was convicted in regards to continuing growth and sanctification by the whole book and found some chapters very pointed. All the book is very centered and seeped with Christ and His word. I highly recommend! I can see myself returning to chapters when I am in need of help combating certain areas the chapters address.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Omri

    This is one of the best books that I have ever read. As a certified biblical counselor with ACBC, I cannot believe that I just learned about this book. This should be required reading for all biblical counselors IMO. Many books talk about heart idols or how to influence one’s heart for God but Flavel is unparalleled in his ability to demonstrate the practice of heart-shepherding, or as he calls it, “heart-work.” Rather than telling the reader how it’s done, Flavel shows us by walking through, on This is one of the best books that I have ever read. As a certified biblical counselor with ACBC, I cannot believe that I just learned about this book. This should be required reading for all biblical counselors IMO. Many books talk about heart idols or how to influence one’s heart for God but Flavel is unparalleled in his ability to demonstrate the practice of heart-shepherding, or as he calls it, “heart-work.” Rather than telling the reader how it’s done, Flavel shows us by walking through, one step at a time, the thoughts that we must have about God and ourselves and those unique seasons of life when the heart requires increased vigilance. The Puritan language might be a hurdle for some, but I believe that the return will more than reward every reader’s labor in these pages.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Brown

    Really, really good. This is the kind of book to have on hand for dark times or just "dry" spells in your faith. Short, convicting, encouraging, and easy to read. Really, really good. This is the kind of book to have on hand for dark times or just "dry" spells in your faith. Short, convicting, encouraging, and easy to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean McGowan

    Great.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Greg Helms

    This is one of the greatest books I’ve read. It is one of the most helpful resources; I needed to read it thoughtfully, slowly. This is probably the most enjoyable Puritan work I have yet read—though I’ve read few, more are certainly in the pipeline. I am indebted to John Flavel. The Lord hs used his words in ink to help my heart. May I be zealous for “the greatest work that ever a creature was employed about.” #letmeintroduceyou #JESUSisLORD

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Stober

    This is a book I think I will probably re-read on a somewhat regular basis going forward. Flavel wrote this as instructions for following Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Each chapter centers around doing so in different seasons and against different assailants such as prosperity, doubt, wrongful accusation, sickness, etc. I found even this modernized version (the original was written in the 1600's) to be well-written and engaging. I've a This is a book I think I will probably re-read on a somewhat regular basis going forward. Flavel wrote this as instructions for following Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Each chapter centers around doing so in different seasons and against different assailants such as prosperity, doubt, wrongful accusation, sickness, etc. I found even this modernized version (the original was written in the 1600's) to be well-written and engaging. I've already recommended this to several people, and can definitely see using it in the future for discipleship purposes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    4.75 What a refreshing and encouraging book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    elora

    "O that I might see the time when professors shall not walk in a vain show; when they shall please themselves no more with a vain name to live, while they are spiritually dead; when they shall be no more the company of frothy, vain persons; but when holiness shall shine in their conversation, and awe the world, and command reverence from all that are around them; when they shall warm the heart of those who come near them, and cause it to be said, God is in these men of a truth." pg 114 Heart work "O that I might see the time when professors shall not walk in a vain show; when they shall please themselves no more with a vain name to live, while they are spiritually dead; when they shall be no more the company of frothy, vain persons; but when holiness shall shine in their conversation, and awe the world, and command reverence from all that are around them; when they shall warm the heart of those who come near them, and cause it to be said, God is in these men of a truth." pg 114 Heart work is one of the most difficult tasks the Lord has brought me to set about dealing with. Oh Lord, Grant me Your fervor and mercy; make me vigorous and strengthened by Your Spirit to such a great task as keeping my heart aligned to You. Let me taste and see that to be in Your presence with a heart that is stayed upon You is the greatest delight I can ever imagine or experience in this life. And O, what raptures of eternity, where at last this long and difficult road of heart work, I shall at once lay upon Your bosom and be at rest.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeanie

    I love reading the insight of those long ago. Those who do not have the distractions we have today. Survival and the main needs of the day were at the forefront but today, we think about what we will wear, what restraunt we will eat, go on vacation. No wonder our hearts can be far from God. This book is a detailed look at the heart. By understanding the diligent and constant use of all holy means to preseve the soul from sin...the motive...and the fears of our heart. The comfort of our our souls I love reading the insight of those long ago. Those who do not have the distractions we have today. Survival and the main needs of the day were at the forefront but today, we think about what we will wear, what restraunt we will eat, go on vacation. No wonder our hearts can be far from God. This book is a detailed look at the heart. By understanding the diligent and constant use of all holy means to preseve the soul from sin...the motive...and the fears of our heart. The comfort of our our souls much depends on the keeping of our hearts. How we understand grace comes from keeping our heart unto the Lord. We can be very careless. I saw that reading this. How careless I have been. Prayer and the heart are meant to be together. I thought it was very insightful of Flavel ..."Satan is angry and discontented spirit. He finds no rest but in restless hearts." This read is a reflection of the heart, that we would find peace and the knowledge of who God is.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cole Wright

    So so good. Will read again. “A guilty conscience is more terrified of imagined dangers, than a pure conscience is by real ones.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lawson Hembree

    In “Keeping the Heart”, Flavel encourages Christians to diligently look after the heart so that it stays focused on devotion to, obedience to, and love for God. Even after conversion, our hearts are easily distracted and so this discipline of keeping the heart is essential to maintaining focus on the pursuit of holiness for God’s glory. This requires watchfulness, prayer, and self-denial, among other things. The benefits of keeping the heart are many including assurance, joy, comfort, endurance, In “Keeping the Heart”, Flavel encourages Christians to diligently look after the heart so that it stays focused on devotion to, obedience to, and love for God. Even after conversion, our hearts are easily distracted and so this discipline of keeping the heart is essential to maintaining focus on the pursuit of holiness for God’s glory. This requires watchfulness, prayer, and self-denial, among other things. The benefits of keeping the heart are many including assurance, joy, comfort, endurance, boldness, and Christlikeness. After describing what it means to keep the heart and providing evidence for why Christians should prioritize this discipline, Flavel gives practical advice for keeping the heart in twelve particular circumstances that require extra diligence: 1. Times of prosperity 2. Times of adversity 3. Times of danger for God’s people 4. Times of danger and public turmoil 5. Times of outward wants 6. Times of public and private worship 7. Times when injured and attacked by others 8. Times of great personal trial 9. Times of temptation 10. Times of doubting and spiritual darkness 11. Times of suffering for being a Christian 12. The time of our impending death This book is such a great reminder of our need to watch after, guard, and keep our hearts because of the centrality of the heart to all other aspects of our Christian life. Notable Quotes: “The comfort of our souls much depends upon the keeping of our hearts; for he that is negligent in attending to his own heart, is, ordinarily, a great stranger to assurance, and the comforts following from it.” “By cross providences God is faithfully pursuing the great design of electing love upon the souls of his people, and orders all these afflictions as means sanctified to that end. Afflictions come not by casualty, but by counsel. By this counsel of God they are ordained as means of much spiritual good to saints.” “The mercy of God to us should melt our hearts into mercy towards others. It is impossible that we should be cruel to others, except we forget how kind and compassionate God hath been to us.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Now I see how Spurgeon was greatly influenced by the Puritans. Excellent teaching, although sometimes it’s hard to understand because of the old style of writing. Nonetheless I will return to this one again in the future. And I plan to read more of the Puritans.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Perteet

    I started this book as our pastor is discussing it on Wednesday nights as part of his spiritual disciplines series. I really enjoyed reading it but I wish he spent more time discussing how to keep the heart rather than spending the entire book talking about why we need to keep the heart.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is one to re-read, slowly, with a notebook. I especially appreciated the section on keeping the heart from fear.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Ravishing

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh Miller

    Outstanding thorough read! Have not read many Puritan authors before. Was pleasantly surprised and challenged in this short read! Infused with Scripture and presented in a direct, straight-forward manner, Flavel zeroes in on what should be one of the key focuses of a Christian - that of keeping one's heart with all diligence. I highlighted and marked many a statement from this book. The author lists and expounds upon special times in life when one ought to give special attention to the keeping of Outstanding thorough read! Have not read many Puritan authors before. Was pleasantly surprised and challenged in this short read! Infused with Scripture and presented in a direct, straight-forward manner, Flavel zeroes in on what should be one of the key focuses of a Christian - that of keeping one's heart with all diligence. I highlighted and marked many a statement from this book. The author lists and expounds upon special times in life when one ought to give special attention to the keeping of his/her heart: 1. The time of prosperity 2. The time of adversity 3. The time of Zion's troubles 4. The time of danger and public distraction 5. The time of outward wants 6. The season of duty 7. When receiving injuries and abuses from men 8. When we meet with great trials 9. The hour of temptation 10. The time of doubting and of spiritual darkness 11. When sufferings for religion are laid upon us 12. When we are warned by sickness that our dissolution is at hand

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nathan White

    One of my all-time favorites - I’ve read it several times and make a practice of reading it every few years. Deep, soul-searching breakdown of Proverbs 4:23 - “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life.” The most valuable aspect of Flavel’s treatment is how he considers many different circumstances of life that we commonly experience, and the necessity of living by faith rather than by sight. It gets at true heart religion. Not formality, but true devotion and love One of my all-time favorites - I’ve read it several times and make a practice of reading it every few years. Deep, soul-searching breakdown of Proverbs 4:23 - “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life.” The most valuable aspect of Flavel’s treatment is how he considers many different circumstances of life that we commonly experience, and the necessity of living by faith rather than by sight. It gets at true heart religion. Not formality, but true devotion and love for Christ. I highly recommend this as one of my favorites from the English puritans.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara Larson

    Could not recommend this more. Absolutely excellent and heart probing! I want to read it every year. “All that I beg for is this, that you would step aside oftener to talk with God and your own heart; that you would not suffer every trifle to divert you; that you would keep a more true and faithful account of your thoughts and affections; that you would seriously demand of your own heart at least every evening, 'O my heart, where hast thou been today, and what has engaged thy thoughts?'” Could not recommend this more. Absolutely excellent and heart probing! I want to read it every year. “All that I beg for is this, that you would step aside oftener to talk with God and your own heart; that you would not suffer every trifle to divert you; that you would keep a more true and faithful account of your thoughts and affections; that you would seriously demand of your own heart at least every evening, 'O my heart, where hast thou been today, and what has engaged thy thoughts?'”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Phillips

    So. So good. Flavel, as usual, shines in his excellent exposition of what it means to "keep the heart with all diligence." The book is in a fairly standard Puritan format, showing the meaning and necessity of the duty in a deeply biblical and affectionate manner while also providing the means and motives for carrying it out. An interesting feature of this book is the middle section, which contains 11 seasons in which it is most needful to keep the heart. So. So good. Flavel, as usual, shines in his excellent exposition of what it means to "keep the heart with all diligence." The book is in a fairly standard Puritan format, showing the meaning and necessity of the duty in a deeply biblical and affectionate manner while also providing the means and motives for carrying it out. An interesting feature of this book is the middle section, which contains 11 seasons in which it is most needful to keep the heart.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Schmid

    Finished reading this book on Valentine's Day. :-) In this book, John Flavel writes about the importance of keeping the heart. He lists various circumstances in which the condition of the heart is in danger and then does very well to provide biblical truths and practical adivice to apply to each of those circumstances. Finished reading this book on Valentine's Day. :-) In this book, John Flavel writes about the importance of keeping the heart. He lists various circumstances in which the condition of the heart is in danger and then does very well to provide biblical truths and practical adivice to apply to each of those circumstances.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    This is quite like a smaller version of Ryle's "Holiness". It's very practical, and addresses as many facets as you can think of. However, while they are communicated in a way which is easy to understand, that does not mean it is easy work. I was convicted throughout the whole book. Definitely read this short book, but prepare for the knife. This is quite like a smaller version of Ryle's "Holiness". It's very practical, and addresses as many facets as you can think of. However, while they are communicated in a way which is easy to understand, that does not mean it is easy work. I was convicted throughout the whole book. Definitely read this short book, but prepare for the knife.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is a book to read yearly, carefully, and prayerfully, if you want to do the necessary heart-work of a Christian. Subtitled, How to maintain your love for God.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    Great short book of deep thought. Practical application and so many good things that I practically underlined the whole book. Will definitely read and re-read!

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    This is a nice study by John Flavel about prayer and keeping one's heart devoted to God regardless of what life throws at you. This is a nice study by John Flavel about prayer and keeping one's heart devoted to God regardless of what life throws at you.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katrin V

    Flavel (1627-1691) writes in typically dense Puritan style. I could only digest a page or two at a time and having finished the whole work, now feel I need to review it all again. It was a sobering exhortation to pay attention to my heart at all times. All 116 pages are an exposition of "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Prov 4.23 but might also have been used for “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Jer 17.9 Flavel (1627-1691) writes in typically dense Puritan style. I could only digest a page or two at a time and having finished the whole work, now feel I need to review it all again. It was a sobering exhortation to pay attention to my heart at all times. All 116 pages are an exposition of "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Prov 4.23 but might also have been used for “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Jer 17.9. There is no circumstance that we find ourselves in when the heart is not tempted to stray. In his introduction Flavel says, "what power we have depends upon the exciting and assisting strength of Christ. Grace within us is beholden to grace without us. 'Without me ye can do nothing.'" "'With all diligence' plainly implies how difficult it is to keep our hearts, how dangerous to neglect them." "The keeping and right managing of the heart in every condition, is one great business of a Christian's life." Like David we should pray, 'Unite my heart to fear thy name.' ps 86.11 Flavel points out that this exhortation is directed at those who have believed in their redemption through Christ's death. The main body of the text goes into reasons why Christians must make this the great business of their lives and the seasons that we need to take great care. Reasons: To glorify God. The sincerity of our profession of faith. The attractiveness of our speech stems from the state of our hearts. The comfort of our souls. The improvement of our graces. Our stability in the face of temptation. Special seasons requiring special vigilance: Time of prosperity Time of adversity Time of oppression of the Church Time of danger and public distraction Time of outward wants Season of duty When we receive injuries and abuses from men When we meet great trials the hour of temptation Seasons of doubting and spiritual darkness When sufferings for religion are laid upon us When illness warns us that death is close Flavel ends with a short chapter on improving and applying the subject in which he addresses the ease with which we live as hypocrites and underscores the importance of daily self-examination. "Study your hearts, watch your hearts, keep your hearts! Away with fruitless controversies and all idle questions; away with empty names and vain shows; away with unprofitable discourse and bold censures of others, and turn in upon yourselves. . . . .I beg. ..that you would step aside oftener to talk with God and your own heart; that you would not suffer every trifle to divert you; that you would keep a more true and faithful account of your thoughts and affections; that you would seriously demand of your own heart at least every evening, 'O my heart, where hast though been today, and has engaged thy thoughts?' Now to see what impact such a daily demand might make.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Nichols

    My goal in 2019 is to read some of the timeless "Christian Classics" that have made an impact on the body of Christ and are heralded as the best works in Christian literature. John Flavel's book Keeping The Heart did not disappoint. This book is not for the name it claim it crowd of modern evangelicalism but for the true child of God who needs to be reminded to "check thyself before ye wreck thyself". Steeped in Scripture, doctrine, reproof, correction, exhortation, this devotional has it all. I My goal in 2019 is to read some of the timeless "Christian Classics" that have made an impact on the body of Christ and are heralded as the best works in Christian literature. John Flavel's book Keeping The Heart did not disappoint. This book is not for the name it claim it crowd of modern evangelicalism but for the true child of God who needs to be reminded to "check thyself before ye wreck thyself". Steeped in Scripture, doctrine, reproof, correction, exhortation, this devotional has it all. I'll leave you with an excerpt that rang my bell. "Hence, to the consternation of hypocrites and formal professors, I infer: 1. That the pains and labours which many persons have undergone in religion are of no value, and will turn to no good account. Many splendid services have been performed by men, which God will utterly reject: they will not stand on record in order to an eternal acceptance, because the performers took no heed to keep their hearts with God. This is that fatal rock on which thousands of vain professors dash and ruin themselves eternally; they are exact about the externals of religion, but regardless of their hearts. O how many hours have some professors spent in hearing, praying, reading and conferring! And yet, as to the main end of religion, they might as well have sat still and done nothing, the great work, I mean heart-work, being all the while neglected. Tell me, vain professor, when did you shed a tear for the deadness, hardness, unbelief or earthliness of your heart? And do you think your easy religion can save you? If so, you must invert Christ's words, and say, Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to life, and many there be that go in thereat. Hear me, ye self-deluding hypocrite; you who have put off God with heartless duties; you who have acted in religion as if you had been blessing an idol; you who could not search your heart, and regulate it, and exercise it in your performances; how will you abide the coming of the Lord? how will you hold up your head before him, when he shall say. 'O you dissembling. false-hearted man! How could you profess religion? With what face could you so often tell me that you loved me, when you knew in your conscience that your heart was not with me? O tremble to think what a fearful judgment it is to be given over to a heedless and careless heart, and then to have religions duties instead of a rattle to quiet and still the conscience!" Flavel, John. Keeping the Heart . Fig. Kindle Edition.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    I think for many of us this Proverb means a lot: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." The Puritan writer, John Flavel, attempts to dissect what this means and how to actually live it. The contents page indicates there are 4 chapters but the 3rd one is the bulk of this short book, taking up 84 of the 118 pages. I throughly enjoyed the other 34 pages but found Chapter 3 hard going. Using story to illustrate concepts didn't seem to matter much to the Puritans and I think for many of us this Proverb means a lot: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." The Puritan writer, John Flavel, attempts to dissect what this means and how to actually live it. The contents page indicates there are 4 chapters but the 3rd one is the bulk of this short book, taking up 84 of the 118 pages. I throughly enjoyed the other 34 pages but found Chapter 3 hard going. Using story to illustrate concepts didn't seem to matter much to the Puritans and so the going was dense and overly wordy. I found a lot of it just washed over me. In this chapter, Flavel explores different seasons in life and one can guard one's heart during each particular one. However, I found plenty in those other 34 pages and am pleased I read it as it definitely helped me better understand the intent of the verse and also how to go about living it. I did find it frustrating that in this version there were no references for the many Bible verses quoted.

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