Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
Let us then guard our hearts, let us guard our mouths. Both have been written about. In this place we are bidden to take heed to our mouth; in another place you are told, “Keep your heart with all diligence.” If David took heed, will you not take heed? If Isaiah had unclean lips—who said, “Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man, and have unclean lips”—if a prophet of the Lord had unclean lips, how shall we have them clean?… Your possession is your mind, your gold your heart, your silver your speech: “The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in the fire.” A good mind is also a good possession. And, further, a pure inner life is a valuable possession. Hedge in, then, this possession of yours, enclose it with thought, guard it with thorns, that is, with pious care, lest the fierce passions of the flesh should rush upon it and lead it captive, lest strong emotions should assault it, and, overstepping their bounds, carry off its vintage. Guard your inner self. –.

Athanasius the Apostolic

AD 373
Living thus, let us watch constantly and, as it is written, keep our heart with all watchfulness, for we have terrible and crafty enemies, the wicked demons, and we wrestle against them, as the apostle said: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness on high.” Life of St.

Basil the Great

AD 379
Whoever, therefore, would be truly a follower of God must sever the bonds of attachment to this life, and this is done through complete separation from and forgetfulness of old habits. We must wrest ourselves from both fleshly ties and worldly society, being transported, as it were, to another world in our manner of living, as the apostle said: “But our commonwealth is in heaven.” Without this it is impossible for us to achieve our goal of pleasing God, inasmuch as the Lord said specifically, “So likewise every one of you that does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be my disciple.” And having done this, we should watch over our heart with all vigilance.

Basil the Great

AD 379
Believe these words of mine that proceed from the fraternal charity of my heart. Have recourse to older men who make themselves difficult of access and in no way harm the young by their charm of countenance but animate them to virtuous deeds by sayings from Proverbs. “With all watchfulness, keep your heart”; for, like golden treasure, it is the object of the constant vigilance of thieves, night and day, and in an unguarded moment it is stolen without your being aware of it. See that the adversary does not seduce you into the sin of our first parent and cast you with all speed out of the paradise of delight. .


AD 735
Solomon convinces us to chastise all these kinds of evil thoughts when he says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for life comes forth from it.” Following his suggestion, let us act quickly, that if we transgress in any way in our thoughts by consenting to carry out something wicked, we may swiftly wipe away this [transgression] by confession and fruits worthy of repentance. If we perceive that we are being tempted by delight in committing sin, let us drive away this noxious delight by our frequent prayers and tears and by our frequent recollection of everlasting bitterness. If we see that we are not capable of ridding ourselves of it on our own, let us seek the help of our brothers, that we may accomplish by their advice and intercession what we are unable to do by our own strength.

Caesarius of Arles

AD 542
Let us listen to the prophet when he says, “With all watchfulness keep your heart,” and “Turn away my eyes that they may not behold vanity.” When someone lays hold of coals of fire but immediately throws them away they do not hurt him. But if he wants to hold on to them longer, he cannot get rid of them without injury. Similarly, if a man gazes lustfully and by lingering over it allows the evil of lust in his heart to get a hold on his thoughts, he cannot shake them off without injury to his soul.

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
From it: As the heart is the principal part of the body, so the will is the chief power of the soul, from which good or evil proceeds. (Worthington) A clean heart gives life, a corrupt one, death, Matthew xv. 11, 19.

Macarius the Great

AD 391
Scripture enjoins everyone to “guard his own heart with all diligence,” so that anyone, guarding the word within him like a paradise, may enjoy the grace not to listen to the serpent that creeps around inside, enticing him with things that lead to pleasure whereby anger that slays a brother is engendered and the soul, that gives birth to it, itself dies. But may he have the grace rather to listen to the Lord saying, “Be concerned with faith and hope through which love of God and of man is engendered which bestows eternal life.” … For in a proportionate measure the word of God comes to each person. As long as a person possesses the word, he is held by the word and as long as he keeps it, so long he is guarded.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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