“Nothing but the deepest and direst exigency could have demanded, or even justified, such a sacrifice as the death of God’s eternal Son. The sufferings of Christ are the most affecting testimony in the universe, of man’s unyielding, helpless depravity.”Gardiner Spring, The Attraction Of The Cross, 36.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.—PSALM 51:5.
The end of the ministry of the gospel is to bring sinners unto Christ. Their way to this end lies through the sense of their misery without Christ. The ingredients of this misery, are our sinfulness, original and actual; the wrath of God, whereto sin has exposed us; and our impotency to free ourselves either from sin or wrath. That we may therefore promote this great end, we shall endeavour, as the Lord will assist, to lead you in this way, by the sense of misery, to him who alone can deliver from it. Now the original of our misery being the corruption of our natures, or original sin, we thought fit to begin here, and therefore have pitched upon these words as very proper for our purpose.
The Works of David Clarkson, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 3.
The heart, that was made according to God’s own heart, is now the reverse of it, a forge of evil imaginations, a sink of inordinate affections, and a storehouse of all impiety (Mark 7:21-22).
The mind is defiled; the thoughts of the heart are evil; the will and affections are defiled: the imagination of the thoughts of the heart, that is, whatsoever the heart frameth within itself by thinking, such as judgment, choice, purposes, devices, desires, every inward motion, or rather the frame of the thoughts of the heart, namely the frame, make, or mould of these is evil.
But is there not, at least, a mixture of good in them? No, they are only evil; there is nothing in them truly good and acceptable to God: nor can any thing be so, that comes out of that forge. Not one holy thought can ever be produced by the unholy heart.
O what a vile heart is this! O what a corrupt nature is this! The tree that always brings forth fruit, but never good fruit, whatever soil it be set in, whatever pains be taken with it, must naturally be an evil tree.
Surely that corruption is ingrained in our hearts, interwoven with our very natures, has sunk deep into our souls, and will never be cured but by a miracle of grace.
Adapted from The Whole Works of Thomas Boston, 8:27-28.
Oftentimes men charge that upon the devil that is to be charged upon their own hearts
Though Satan has his devices to draw souls to sin, yet we must be careful that we do not lay all our temptations upon Satan, that we do not wrong the devil, and attribute that upon him that is to be attributed upon our own base hearts.
Sin and shifting blame came into the world together. This is no small baseness of our hearts, that they will be wicked, ay, very wicked, and yet will attribute that wickedness upon Satan.
Man has an evil root within him
Were there no devil to tempt him, nor no wicked men in the world to entice him, yet that root of bitterness, that cursed sinful nature that is in him, would draw him to sin, though he knows beforehand that “the wages of sin is eternal death” (Rom 6:23), “for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies” (Matt 15:19).
The whole frame of man is out of frame
The understanding is dark, the will cross, the memory slippery, the affections crooked, the conscience corrupted, the tongue poisoned, and the heart wholly evil, only evil, and continually evil. Should God chain up Satan, and give him no liberty to tempt or entice the sons of men to vanity or folly, yet they would not, yet they could not but sin against him, by reason of that cursed nature that is in them, that will still be a-provoking them to those sins that will provoke and stir up the anger of God against them (Jude 15, 16).
Satan hath only a persuading sleight, not an enforcing might
He may tempt us, but without ourselves he cannot conquer us. He may entice us, but without ourselves he cannot hurt us. Our hearts carry the greatest stroke in every sin. Satan can never undo a man without himself; but a man may easily undo himself without Satan. Satan can only present the golden cup, but he hath no power to force us to drink the poison that is in the cup. He can only present to us the glory of the world, he cannot force us to fall down and worship him. He can only spread his snares, he hath no power to force us to walk in the midst of his snares.
Therefore do the devil so much right, as not to excuse yourselves, by your accusing him, and laying the load upon him, that you should lay upon your own hearts.
Adapted from The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, 1:152–153.