Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Sound-Hearted Christian

I recently read through The Sound-Hearted Christian by William Greenhill (1598-1671) and decided to post some of my notes.  This book (ISBN 978-1-60178-099-7) was reprinted in 2010 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications and contains The Sound-Hearted Christian plus five additional sermons.  In this work, Mr. Greenhill expounds Psalm 119:80 -- "Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed."
Here is a brief outline of his exposition:

Doctrine 1: A gracious heart is a watchful heart.
  • Chapter 1 - A Sound Heart is a Watchful Heart
Doctrine 2: The heart is especially to be looked after.
  • Chapter 2 - The Chief Care of a Gracious Man is About His Heart
  • Chapter 3 - The Application
Doctrine 3: The desire of saints and gracious ones is to have sound hearts.
  • Chapter 4 - A Gracious Soul Desires Soundness of Heart
  • Chapter 5 - The Privilege, Dignity, and Excellency of a Sound Heart
  • Chapter 6 - How to Get a Sound Heart
  • Chapter 7 - How to Keep a Sound Heart
Doctrine 4: An unsound heart will one time or another make a man ashamed.
  • Chapter 8 - Motives to Keep a Sound Heart
  • Chapter 9 - A Description of an Unsound Heart and Corrupted Person
  • Chapter 10 - Uses and Application

I found Chapter 7 "How to Keep a Sound Heart" to be the most helpful for the ongoing process of Christian sanctification as well as the most convicting.  Mr Greenhill writes: "If you would preserve your hearts sound, then take pains to keep down all lusts that are stirring; for unless you keep your lusts under control, you will never keep sound hearts...So if you would have a sound heart, meditate much upon the Word of God.  His words are wholesome words, and make the heart more sound every day...If you would be sound-hearted men and women, and not led away with errors or the evils of the times, then have God constantly in your eye.  God is present everywhere.  He is in you all, through you all, and over you all.  And did you see God, and set God before you, and acknowledge God's presence and eye upon you, you would not meddle with weeds; you would not meddle with errors; you would not give way to lusts," (pp. 64-66).

The author also shows his readers how the Sound-hearted Christian fears God: "A man should have God in his thoughts all the day long, and should be fearing God from morning to evening.  He should sanctify God in his heart, and make Him his dread and his fear.  Wherever he goes, a man should be afraid to displease God, in any place, in any company, and at any time," (p. 82).

Finally, Mr. Greenhill leaves the Christian reader with this sobering thought: "If the heart is not sound, you will be ashamed to all eternity," (p. 96).

"Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God," (James 4:2-4).