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Keeping the Heart (Puritan Writings) Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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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
About the 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Otherwise, a very helpful book for believers concerned with keeping their hearts pure before God. Highly recommended.
Using Proverbs 4:23 ("Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life."), Flavel creates a treatise designed for all professing Christians. The aim is that the contents of the heart be laid bare, so that sin which is present is seen as sin and dealt with as a believer should and that the heart be guided to be pure in its devotion and affection for God. He does this, not with law, but by constantly pointing the believer to God's grace as the grounds and means for his sanctification. Flavel is not content to merely convey information, rather, with each point he carefully takes aim at your very soul and deftly fires shot after gospel-saturated, God-glorifying shot. Make sure you read this book slowly and prayerfully, allowing each purifying blow to have its full affect on your heart.
The treatise is basically broken down into four sections:
1."What keeping the heart presupposes" (Six statements describing what is basic in keeping the heart).
2."Why keeping the heart is a great business" (Six statements and their exposition explaining why the life of a Christian should be described as a life of "keeping their heart")
3."Special seasons for keeping the heart" (104 specific pieces of advice particularly tailored for 12 seasons of life in which special diligence is necessary to guard the heart)
4."Uses" of means in keeping the heart (Examples and guidelines on using information, exhortation, direction, and consolation in the keeping of the heart).
Keeping the Heart is a work that is difficult to navigate without seeing the "big picture" of what Flavel is setting out to do. I therefore recommend you acquire a copy that includes the "Outline" by Maureen Bradley. Each of the statements, seasons, or uses alluded to in describing the structure of the work has many subpoints underneath it. I would recommend in your reading that you decide to either read one statement/season/use at a time (roughly 10 pages a piece, although they vary dramatically), or to use it devotionally in much smaller chunks by reading one subpoint at a time. After your first time through the work, you will then be able to quickly navigate to the heart-shepherding help that is particular to your struggle or circumstance.
You will be well-served to read Keeping the Heart, working through the 17th century language (Flavel is not nearly as difficult as many other Puritans and the Soli Deo Gloria edition has helpfully modernized spelling, formatting, and grammar).
But get a different version. This book was riddled with typographical and grammatical errors - missing/extra commas and periods, misspelled words, etc. This one was the cheapest version to buy, and I now understand why.