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Instructions About Heartwork (Alleine)

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Soli Deo Gloria


First published in 1681, this little-known treatise by Puritan pastor Richard Alleine is an extensive exposition of Proverbs 4:23: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The author instructs readers in the proper way to keep their hearts, stressing what is to be done on God’s part and on the believer’s part. In the processes, he details the well-kept heart as one that is mercifully recovered from its lost state, carefully governed in godliness, and eagerly guarded against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The goal throughout is that believers may grow in exercising grace and embracing full assurance of salvation.


Introductory Epistle to the Reader 

Chapter 1: Every Man Is Appointed to Be His Own Keeper 

Chapter 2: There Are Two Paths 

Chapter 3: The Great Care of Every Man Is to Keep His Heart 

Chapter 4: The Great Concern of Every Sinner Is to Be Recovered Out of His Lost Soul 

Chapter 5: How We May Know If We Are Recovered or Not 

Chapter 6: Why Should We Mourn over Lost Souls 

Chapter 7: What Sinners Must Do for Their Own Recovery 

Chapter 8: An Exhortation 

Chapter 9: Some Questions Proposed 

Chapter 10: Keeping a Good Conscience 

Chapter 11: Keeping the Heart 

Chapter 12: Self-Conceit, Self-Will, and Self-Love 

Chapter 13: Sinful Self-Love 

Chapter 14: Divine Love versus Sinful Self-Love 

Chapter 15: The Government of the Heart Stands in Five Things 

Chapter 16: Ordering Our Love 

Chapter 17: Ordering Our Desires 

Chapter 18: Ordering Our Joys 

Chapter 19: Ordering Our Fear 

Chapter 20: Ordering Our Grief 

Chapter 21: Ordering Our Anger 

Chapter 22: The Final Points in Governing Our Hearts 

Chapter 23: Guarding the Heart 

Chapter 24: How to Guard the Heart 

Chapter 25: A Loose and Listless Heart 

Chapter 26: How Must the Heart Be Guarded


“This was the last work of this blessed author, and I wish the improvement of the scope of it may be the first and last work of every reader. His works have done good to many, and very few men have so many heart epistles of commendation…. A clear and practical understanding of the way of grace, the way of temptation, and the way of duty regarding the heart will steer us right through all the difficulties and dangers we shall meet with on this side of glory. That this book may be blessed to this end is the hearty desire of a willing servant of Christ and Christians.” 

—Samuel Annesley (ca. 1620–1696), a prominent Puritan and nonconformist pastor 

About the Author

Richard Alleine (1611–1691) ministered in the city of Batcomb for more than twenty years until he was ejected in 1662 for nonconformity. After being ejected, he preached in private homes and was fined on several occasions for holding services not sanctioned by the Church of England. As a preacher and pastor, he was greatly respected and well-known for his pious, practical writings.