Guard Heart

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
~ Hebrews 3:7

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
~ Hebrews 10:24-25

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
~ Proverbs 28:26

He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
~ Isaiah 44:20

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
~ Obadiah 1:3

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
~ Romans 7:11

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
~ Ephesians 4:22

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
~ James 1:14

Guarding the Heart Against the Deceitfulness of Sin, by William Gouge. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “Commentary on Hebrews”.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
~ Hebrews 3:13

Sec. 147. Of the damage of neglecting means for softening the heart.

To enforce the foresaid only of mutual exhorting one .mother, and that from time to time, so long as the season continueth, the apostle declareth the danger of neglecting the same, in these words, ‘ lest any of you be hardened.’ He had before shewed, ver. 8, the great damage of hardness of heart, he doth therefore hero inculcate that damage, to make them the more watchful against it.

The manner of bringing in this damage is by way of caution and prevention…

…softening are omitted or neglected, the heart will be rupt reason and sense, ‘vain deceit,’…hardened. As the heart of man is of its own nature ii. 8. And another apostle calls the lascivious practice…

…hard, so after it is by public or private means softened, f those means be not still used, the heart will fall to its native hardness. As wax, and clay, and other like things, which are naturally hard, will upon withholding means of softening, after they have been once softened, fall to their native hardness, so the heart of man. Or as water, though it be made scalding hot…if fire be taken from it, will soon wax cold of itself and as all manner of heavy things, being by some means or other drawn upwards, will of themselves fall down again if those means be taken away; so the heart, there is a natural proneness and inclination in it to hardness.

The indefinite expression,’ lest any of you, implieth that all of all sorts, even the best, were subject to this decay and to this hardening of their heart. In this respect they ought all of them to be careful in practising the fore-mentioned duty mutually one to another among all sorts of them. See verse 12, Sec. 123.

Of hardness of heart, and of the great damage thereof, see Sec. 80, &c.

Sec. 148. Of the deceitfulness of sin.

The apostle doth further declare the ground of that proneness to wax hard in this phrase, ‘ through the deceitfulness,’ or ‘ with the deceitfulness of sin.’ So as it is by the manifold deceits of sin that it prevails so much as it doth upon men. The particular deceits hereafter specified give evident proof hereunto.

By sin is here in special meant the corruption of nature, that corruption in which all are conceived and born, which they carry about them so long as they retain their mortal body. It is that which in Scripture is called the flesh, opposed to the spirit. It continually lusts against the spirit, Gal. v. 17, and is ever soliciting a man to evil, and hindering him in every good thing that he enterpriseth, Rom. vii. 18, &c. It containeth in it all manner of evil lusts, Eph. iv. 22, which are called ‘ lusts of deceitfulness,’ or ‘ deceitful lusts,’ because a man is exceedingly deceived therewith. By reason hereof, deceitfulness is attributed to riches, Mat. xiii. 22. For this inbred corruption maketh men so to doat on riches, as they prefer them before true godliness and heavenly happiness.

Though in some special respects the inward corruption may justly be styled deceitful, yet is not this evil quality to be restrained only to it. As the dam or mother is, so are her imps and brats. Both innate corruption, and also outward sins sprouting from thence, are all deceitful. The apostle attributeth this very epithet, (deceiveableness, to unrighteousness, 2 Thes. ii. 10.

…In all these places the word of the test is used, even six times, whereof some speak of our natural corruption, others of the fruits thereof. In this text, sin may indefinitely be taken for any kind of sin, inward or outward, for every sin is deceitful.

The verb from whence the Greek noun translated sin is derived, hath a notation from an Hebrew root, mton, amunim reddidit, e.racerbavit, provocarit, Ps. Ixxviii. 17, that signifieth to embitter and provoke; for every sin exasperates and provokes God. See Sees. 90, 103. In that respect it hath many deceitful devices.

All the devices of sin are as fair baits whereby dangerous hooks are covered over to entice silly fish to snap at them, so as they are taken and made a prey to the fisher.

There is a Greek word, inescare, thrice used in the New Testament, which is taken from that practice of a fisher.

Our English translate it enticed, James i. 14; “beguiling”, 2 Peter ii. 14, “allure”, ver. 18. The primitive root, dolus, from whence the Greek word is derived, signifieth deceit. Thence a noun,which signifieth meat, or a bait, whereby fish, fowl, or other living creatures are taken; and the foresaid verb, which signifieth to lay a bait, or to catch with a bait, and, metaphorically, to entice, allure, and beguile.

This deceitfulness of sin is a strong inducement to make us watchful against it, and that the rather because of our foolish disposition and proneness of nature to snap at every bait, and to yield to every temptation.

No man is willing to be beguiled. Though most men love to be flattered, and delight therein, yet when they discern that their flatterers mock them, they are that we may the better discern the mockings and cozenages of sin, I will set some of them before you.

The deceits which sin useth are such as these:

1. Sin presents itself in another dress than its own.

2. It pretends fair advantages.

3. It insensibly soaketh into men’s hearts.

4. It so bewitcheth those that give entertainment to it as it cannot be cast off.

Of these four particulars.

It accommodates itself to particular men’s humours, as Zedekiah and the four hundred false prophets, observing that Ahab was set to go against Ramothgilead, answerfully ordered their prophecies, even so as best befitted his humoar, 1 Kings xxii. 6. ‘Thus lust, when once it begins to tempt a man, it will it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,’James i. 15.

He had respect unto the recompence of reward,’Heb. xi. 26. ‘ What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ Mat. xviii. 20.

‘ Evil communications corrupt good manners,’ 1 Cor. XV. 83. From words they proceed to deeds. It suggests good effects and events to follow upon yielding to it, abusing that general principle…

1. Thoroughly try matters, as it is said of the angel of the church of Ephesus, ‘ Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars,’ Rev. ii. 2. By a due and thorough trial, false shows and pretences will be discovered.

2. Prize the uncertain advantages which sin may hardly cease till it hath prevailed against him. Though show of, with the certain damages that will follow the Spirit resist it, yet will it continue to resist the upon yielding to sin. Thus will the fair proffers of Spirit, Rom. vii. 21, 23. ‘When lust hath conceived, sin be rejected. Moses ‘ esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of Egypt; for acts upon the phlegmatic humour, pride on the sangainc, anger on the choleric, revenge on the melancholy, passion of the female sex, lasciviousness, on youth, stoutness on the strong man, covetousness on the old man, so the like on others.

3. It works itself into a man by degrees. At first it saith, as Lot did of Zoar, Gen. xix. 20, ‘ Is it not a little one?’ But that little one is like a ‘little leaven’ which ‘ leavenelh the whole lump,’ 1 Cor. thee unawares. This rule is for this end prescribed. At first it saith. Taste a little; upon that taste 1 Thes. v. 8, 6, followeth a liking, then a desire, which moves him to 4. Give no entertainment to sin at all, lest it so commend it, and to accustom himself thereunto. bewitch thee as thou canst not cast it off. Do as Joseph did in this kind. Gen. xxxix. 8, &e.

5. Seek not to satisfy thine humour. There is great danger therein. Thereby may we soon fall into great distempers. Solomon, to this purpose, gives this adthe apostle, ‘AH things work together for good,’ Rom. vice, ‘ Put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man viii. 28. Though God, through his unsearchable wisgiven to appetite,’ Prov. xxiii. 2. And Christ thus, dom and almighty power, may bring good out of evil, ‘ Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your yet is not sin the true and proper cause of good. To hearts be overcharged with surfeiting,’ &c., Luke

…like purpose doth it pervert tliis apostolical cordial, ‘ Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,’ Rom. v. 20.

9. It much presseth the common practice of most men, charging such as yield not with singularity, and thereby deceives many.

10. It insisteth much upon moderation, and allegeth that a man may bo ‘ righteous overmuch,’ and to cast himself into many unnecessary dangers, Eccles. vii. 10.

To conclude, herein appears the deceitfulness… A skilful apothecary can so temper…

11. It much inculcateth the power of repentance, that, supposing the worst that can be said of such and
such a sin, it may be redressed by repentance, pressing Nathan’s answer to David, 2 Sam. xii. 13; and
the effect that followed upon that repentance of Man have bad events; and evil things may have good outcomes, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 18; of Peter, Mat. xxvi. 75, events…

…sin, that there is scarce any sin committed for which he that committeth it hath not some defence to patronise it. As all manner of heretics and idolaters, so impious, profane, rebellious, unmerciful, intemperate, riotous, seditious, ambitious, and injurious persons have their apologies.

Sec. 149. Of remedies against the deceitfulness of sin.

Poison with other ingredients, as to make a cordial thereof. Will it thereupon be safe for any man to drink poison?

9. ‘ Follow not a multitude to do evil,’ Exod. xxiii. 2. Multitude is so far from justifying or extenuating sin, as it aggravateth the same; as many faggots make the fire to be the greater. A prophet hereby aggravateth the cause of Israel’s captivity, that ‘ all Israel transgressed,’ Dan. ix. 11. And herein the sin of the Sodomites is aggravated, that ‘ both old and young…

Many of the means prescribed for perseverance.

Sec. 70, may be applied against the deceitfulness of sin. But besides them, it is meet to set down other even all the people from every quarter,’ conspired particulars parallel to the particular deceits of sin, which are such as follow. For this end, as Eph. i. 17, and Philip, i. 9, 10.

10. Be well instructed in those things which concern God and his glory…

Be always watchful, so sin cannot seize upon xxi. 34.

After some repulses prepare for more assaults.

Satan three several times tempted Christ, and that three several ways: and when he departed from him it was but for a season, Luke iv. 13.

7. Avoid the least degree of sin; for sin is of a growing nature. Stinking weeds grow faster than sweet flowers. Men use to clip a proverb, in saying, ‘ A little hurts not.’ The full proverb is this: ‘ A little hurts not, if it be not taken,’ If the devil get in a claw, he will soon make way for his whole paw, yea, for head, body and all.

8. Judge not matters by events. Good things may truly righteous, that in them thou mayest manifest thy holy zeal, and not be cooled with a pretence of undue moderation. In those things fear not the blame of being ‘ righteous overmuch.’ A man may indeed else should this duty of mutual exhortation be so be righteous overmuch in matters that have no warrant from God’s word; but are either frothy apprehensions of his own brain, or vain inventions of other men. In that which is truly and properly righteous, one cannot be righteous over much.’

11. Take heed of yielding to sin upon presuming to repent. Repentance is not in thine own power: it is a special gift of God, Acts xi. 18, 2 Tim. ii. 25. It is not therefore safe in provoking God to presume of well as public persons. And that which is required that which he only can give.

12. Be well instructed and exercised in God’s word.

By this thou mayest bo made perfect, and thoroughly furnished to answer all vain apologies for sin. By the law of God David was made ‘ wiser than his enemies,’ Ps. cxix. 98.

Sec. 150. Of the resolutions and observations of Heb. iii. 13.

Ver. 13. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day, lest any of you he hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The sum of this verse is, a direction to keep ourselves and others from backsliding.

Herein we may distinguish the inference and the substance.

The inference is in this…the substance lays down,

1. A duty.

2. The danger of neglecting that duty.

In the duty is laid forth,

1. The act to be performed,

2. The persons, both agent and patient, one another.

3. The time.

This is set out two ways:

1. By the extent, daily.

2. By the restraint, is for the establishing of one another.

VI. Mutual duties must continually he performed. So much is intended under this word daily.

VII. There is a season of doing good. This word to-day implieth a season.

VIII. The opportunity of doing good must be taken. This phrase, while it is called To-day, sets out the opportunity when the duty is to be done.

IX. There is danger in omitting this season. This particle lest intendeth a danger.

X. Danger must be prevented in all sorts. This phrase, lest any of you, is indefinite, and compriseth all of all sorts under it.

XI. Man’s heart neglected will soon wax cold. This is the danger intended under this word lest, and expressed in this word hardened.

XII. Sin causeth hardness of heart. Thus much is here expressed.

XIII. Sin is deceitful. This epithet added to sin shews it to be so.

XIV. Sin prevails the more by the deceivableness thereof. This phrase, through the deceitfulness of sin, gives proof hereof.

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