Keeping the Heart
by John Flavel
"Keep your heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life."
Another season wherein the heart must be kept with all
diligence—is when sufferings for Christ sake are laid upon us.
Blessed is the man who in such a season is not offended in Christ. Now,
whatever may be the kind or degree of your sufferings, if they are
sufferings for Christ's sake and the Gospel's, spare no diligence to keep
your heart. If you are tempted to shrink or waver under them, let what
follows help you to repel and to surmount the instigation:
1. What reproach would you cast upon the Redeemer and his
religion by deserting him at such a time as this! You would
proclaim to the world, that however much you have boasted of the promises,
when you are put to the proof—you dare hazard nothing upon them; and this
will give the enemies of Christ an occasion to blaspheme. And will you thus
furnish the heathen with triumph? Ah, if you did but value the name of
Christ as much as many wicked men value their names, you could never endure
that his should be exposed to contempt. Will proud dust and ashes hazard
death or hell rather than have their names disgraced; and will you endure
nothing to maintain the honor of Christ?
2. Dare you violate your conscience out of complaisance
to flesh and blood? Who will comfort you when your conscience
accuses and condemns you? What happiness can there be in life, liberty or
friends—when inward peace is taken away? Consider well what you do.
3. Is not the public interest of Christ and his cause
infinitely more important than any interest of your own, and should you not
prefer his glory and the welfare of his kingdom before everything else?
Should any temporary suffering, or any sacrifice which you can be called to
make, be allowed to come into competition with the honor of his name?
4. Did the Redeemer neglect your interest and think
lightly of you, when for your sake he endured sufferings? Between
your sufferings and His—there can be no comparison. Did he hesitate and
shrink back? No! "He endured the cross, despising the shame." Did he with
unbroken patience and constancy endure so much for you—and will you flinch
from momentary suffering in his cause?
5. Can you so easily cast off the society and the
privileges of the saints and go over to the enemy's side? Are you
willing to withhold your support from those who are determined to persevere,
and throw your influence in the scale against them? Rather let your body and
soul be rent asunder! "If any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure
6. How can you stand before Christ in the day of
judgment, if you desert him now? "He who is ashamed of me and of
my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of
man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy
angels." In a little while, the Son of man will come in the clouds of
heaven, with power and great glory, to judge the world. He will sit upon the
throne of judgment, while all the nations are brought before him. Imagine
yourself now to be witnessing the transactions of that day. Behold the
wicked; behold the apostates; and hear the dreadful sentence which is
pronounced upon them, and see them sinking in the gulf of infinite and
everlasting woe! And will you desert Christ now, will you forsake his cause
to save a little suffering, or to protract an unprofitable life on earth—and
thus expose yourself to the doom of the apostate? Remember, that if you can
silence the remonstrances of conscience now—you cannot hinder the sentence
of the Judge then! By these means keep your heart, that it depart not from
the living God.