The Government of the Passions
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I. WHEN DO OUR PASSIONS BECOME CULPABLE? A sect of ancient philosophers condemned all emotion, held every passion to be culpable, because inconsistent with that serenity of temper, that equal tranquillity of mind, which they thought should ever be preserved. We cannot, however, lay aside our innate dispositions, and with equal indifference meet health or sickness, pleasure or pain. The Stoical doctrine is better calculated for heaven than earth. The passions and affections were all originally designed to have either our own personal good or the good of others for their object, though they are too generally misapplied by our corruption, and degenerate into vices. Our rational and moral powers ought always to have dominion over the inferior principles of our nature. We all stand accountable for the use of our reason, and where reason points out to us good and evil, if we choose the latter, we doubtless appear guilty in the eye of our heavenly Judge. If we cannot wholly extirpate or subdue our passions, yet to subjugate them to government is not only the duty, but the proper and most important employment, of a rational being.

II. OUR HAPPINESS HERE, AS WELL AS HEREAFTER, IS DETERMINED BY THE CONDUCT OF OUR PASSIONS. When they are duly regulated, and act under the guidance and direction of reason, we may promise ourselves all the happiness that our station, or other circumstances of life, will admit. They who are at no pains to discipline and govern their passions, but, disregarding right and wrong, indiscriminately follow whithersoever inclination points the way, may find some pleasure in such pursuits, but none that can compensate for the loss of those interior satisfactions, as well as exterior advantages, that naturally result from a wise and virtuous conduct.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS SELF-GOVERNMENT MAY BE ATTAINED. Consideration, or a right use of reason, is our only remedy. We must often retire into ourselves, and in some calm hour of reflection review the state of the heart. Passions, however strong and vigorous by nature, may be checked in their growth by timely care and prudent opposition. Let us accustom ourselves to deliberate before we act. We should observe, with a watchful eye, all our passions, desires, and affections; keep a constant guard on every avenue to the heart, and be careful to oppose the admittance of any wrong inclination. In order to succeed in this arduous and important work, let us, to our own efforts, add our supplications to Him who alone can order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men.

(G. Carr, B.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

WEB: Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.

The Fountain of Life
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