Proverbs 4:23 says to “keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Our hearts are like fortresses under attack, and we must guard them accordingly. Most people will diligently guard their fortunes and homes, which are of temporal value, but they are very careless about guarding that which is of eternal value—their very souls!
In this work, originally titled A Saint Indeed, John Flavel (1627–1691) looks at what it means to keep the heart, how to keep the heart, and why keeping the heart is the greatest business of every person. This edition includes a helpful introduction, detailed outline, and study guide written by Maureen Bradley, making Keeping the Heart an excellent book for study groups.
Author John Flavel served as a Puritan minister in the English seaport of Dartmouth. Educated at Oxford and ordained by Presbyterians, Flavel exemplified fidelity to the biblical theology of the Westminster Confession, heartfelt love for God, and passion for lost souls. One parishioner said, “That person must have a very soft head, or a very hard heart, or both, that could sit under his ministry unaffected.” He persevered in ministry even after the Act of Uniformity (1662) forced him out of his pulpit. He sometimes preached in the woods or on an island. He traveled in disguise and twice narrowly escaped arrest. In addition to suffering persecution, Flavel experienced much personal grief. He had to bury his wife and first child in his twenties, his second wife in his forties, and his third wife in his fifties. His father died of the plague while imprisoned for nonconformity in 1665. He lived to see the Act of Toleration (1689), but he said, “We are veteran soldiers almost worn out.” He proclaimed God’s Word to the end, dying of a massive stroke on June 6, 1691, while on a preaching trip to Exeter. Many Christians, including Jonathan Edwards and Archibald Alexander, have treasured his writings for their Christ-centered exposition of Reformed experiential godliness.
Endorsement “You are holding in your hands the heartbeat of Puritan pastoral ministry and Christian spirituality—John Flavel’s plea to his congregation to guard their hearts from sin and keep them for Christ. This book is warm theology wed with wise advice on practical living from how to deal with prosperity or poverty, anger or abuse, sin or the sanctifying providences of suffering. When you read Flavel, open your Bible and your heart and learn from one of the most well-read pastors of his time in both Old and New England.” —Adam Embry