The heart of man is deep. Its depth challenges but at the same time defies description. It has (depths which no man can sound and which no pen, however ready, can fathom.

Only God knows the heart. He knows all hearts and He only knows all hearts.

Inasmuch as only God knows the hearts, we will not turn to the medicos and surgeons for a descrip­tion of the heart, but we shall have to turn to God and His Word. We surely cannot turn to the philosophers and modern educators, since they dwell much on the mind and the will but do not seem to realize that there is such a thing as the heart. Rationalism (and Pelagianism) separate mind and will from the heart. Ra­tionalism, striving as it does to reach the arena of “pure thinking” has erased the word heart from its categories. Neither even can we rely on what seems to be experience, for we would say, “I think with the mind” (or the head) but Scripture would soon enough refute us and tell us that we think with the heart, not with the head.

So we must turn to God who knows the heart. And let me first try to show you what things Scrip­ture ascribes to the heart.

We adduce a few passages first which show that the heart of man is the organ, the center of his life. Not the mind or the will but very definitely the heart is the center or the hub around which the whole of life is organized. In 1 Sam. 1:13 we read that “Han­nah spake in her heart”. Her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Being pressed for an explanation she answers that she is a woman of a sorrowful spirit and pouring out her soul before the Lord. Notice that a sorrowful spirit was pouring out its grief through the soul, but that this all was going on in the heart. Very beautifully you find this same thought in Prov. 14:10, but then you must read it in the Hebrew. In the Eng­lish you read, “The heart knoweth his own bitterness.” In the original you read, “The heart knoweth the bit­terness of his soul.” Showing you the heart as being the bathysphere of our life, that which lies below, un­der, at the bottom of our life, so much so that the heart can speak of “its soul.” Again, in II Sam. 14:1 Joab perceives that David’s heart “was toward Absalom.” Here it is evident that the heart is the center of pa­ternal love and affection. The heart loves. The Lord God claimed that affection when He commanded that we shall love the Lord with all our heart. Again, in 1 Sam. 24:5 we read that, “David’s heart smote him”, and there the heart is identified we might say with what we commonly call the conscience. When we read of Lydia’s conversion we read, “Whose heart the Lord opened that she attended to the things spoken by Paul.” Here the opened heart makes possible a mind which perceives and attends to, the opened heart gives spiritual interest, attention and perception. Again, in Prov. 21:1 it is said that the king’s heart is in God’s hand. The king’s heart is synonymous to his inten­tions, aspirations and plans. While in Eccl. 8:11 it speaks of a heart which is “Fully set in them to do evil,” where the heart is the organ of determination.

These and other such passages convince us how much the heart is the center of all our lives, the center of our sub-conscious life, of perception, of emotion, of affection, intellectual and volition life.

If therefore the heart be evil, all these faculties are evil.

But this brings us to the second general description with which Scripture supplies us concerning the heart. That is, that the heart is also the fountain of our life. It is not only the center, it is also the fountain.

Especially evident is that when in Prov. 4:23 God tells us that “Out of the heart are the issues of life.” Issues here are the outgoing things, the things which reach the surface and flow out into active, personal, social life. These things were incubated as it were in the heart, they found their fountain in the heart. This matter is further explained in Matt. 15:19 where we are told that “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.”

Not the mind but the heart is the fountain.

And the heart issues forth through and under the direction of the mind. The mind gives direction but the heart is the fountain. In Matt. 12:34 it is, “O it of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Not only the mind but also the mouth is fed by and supplied by the issues of the heart. In that same vein it speaks of the, “Thoughts of many hearts” (Luke 2:25) and the “Secrets of the heart” (Ps. 44:21). Rather interesting also to notice that one of the Heb­rew words for the concept “thought” (Sarah) means literally “to extend or stretch out,” perhaps like a branch. Our thoughts protrude like a branch, but they spring from the tree. So the thoughts spring from the heart. In that sense it is true that as a man is in his heart, so will his thoughts be.

Thus then the heart is the fountain of our lives.

Perhaps in connection with and as qualification of this last statement Scripture also emphasizes that al­though the heart is a fountain it is nevertheless not original. For in John 13:2 we read, “The devil hav­ing put into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus.” There is thus a power behind the heart, a power which can influence the heart and pour incentives into its trea­suries. But in Rev. 17:17 we read that “God hath put into the hearts of peoples and nations to fulfil His will.” There God reserves for Himself alone the glory of unquestioned sovereignty over all hearts and also the king’s hearts are in the Lord’s hands as streams of water, He can bend them at will.

Finally Scripture describes that heart as it has be­come through sin. In Jer. 17:9 the heart of natural man is said to be “deceitful and deadly.” Ezek. 11:19 speaks of it as “stony” elsewhere as “hardened” and perverse. Signifying that the heart, both as the cen­ter and the fountain of our lives is evil and thoroughly corrupt. And out of that unclean treasury come all manner of unclean thoughts, actions, decisions and desires. Not only our sins but our sinfulness brings down upon us the wrath of Him who commands pure hearts.

In conclusion a remark or two might be beneficial.

If our perversion lay only in our intellect or volantes, education, discipline and environment might affect improvement in man’s conduct. But the heart, which is deeper than intellect and will, cannot be touched. One may pull some obnoxious weed fruit off the twig, even saw off the branch, but the tree remains. So it is with the heart of man. It remains an evil fountain. Until God in His grace brings about, through Christ, new hearts, or, as stated in 1 Chr. 28:9, “Perfect heart and willing mind.” When that heart of man is made perfect, the mind becomes willing, the intellect becomes enlightened and the desires become purified. It is then that the tenth commandment begins to find fulfilment in God’s people. In regeneration God’s wonderful grace reaches down to the fountain and cen­ter of our life, renewing it and stimulating it with the glorious life of Him Who was raised from the dead.

And lastly, although the heart is principally renewed, the emotions of the flesh still remain in us, the ruts of sin cut deep through mind and will, and it shall be a constant conflict for the newness of heart to express itself in a mind which thinks God’s thoughts and a will which desires His will.

Inasfar as, by grace, we arrive at that newness, there comes also peace of heart.

And sometime when we awake, we shall be satis­fied with His image.