The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?
STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Man’s inward part is very wickedness, a whole nest of vipers.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): How widely different is this from the fair picture of human nature which men have drawn in all ages! The writings of many of the ancients abound with descriptions of the dignity of man…Accounts of this kind have particularly abounded in present century: and perhaps in no part of the world more than in our own country. Here not a few persons of strong understanding, as well as extensive learning, have employed their utmost abilities to show, what they termed the “fair side of human nature.”
Is it any wonder, that these accounts are very readily received by the generality of men? For who is not easily persuaded to think favourably of himself? Accordingly, writers of this kind are most universally read, admired, applauded―so that it is now quite unfashionable to talk otherwise, to say anything to the disparagement of human nature; which is generally allowed, notwithstanding a few infirmities, to be very innocent, and wise, and virtuous! But, in the meantime, what must we do with our Bibles?—for they will never agree with this. These accounts, however pleasing to flesh and blood, are utterly irreconcilable with the scriptural.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The Scripture testifies often that man is a slave of sin. The Scripture means thereby that man’s spirit is so alienated from the justice of God that man conceives, covets, and undertakes nothing that is not evil, perverse, iniquitous, and soiled. Because the heart, totally imbued with the poison of sin, can emit nothing but the fruits of sin…Whatever delight men may take in their fancied excellence, they are worthless and depraved; not indeed in their own opinion, but in the judgment of the Lord
JOHN WESLEY: The Scripture avers, that “by one man’s disobedience all men were constituted sinners;” that “in Adam all died,” spiritually died, lost the life and image of God; that fallen, sinful Adam then “begat a son in his own likeness”—nor was it possible he should beget him in any other; for “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?”—that consequently we, as well as other men, were by nature, “dead in trespasses and sins, without hope, without God in the world,” and, therefore, “children of wrath;” that every man may say, “I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me;” that “there is no difference” in that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”―of that glorious image of God wherein man was created. And hence, “when the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, He saw they were all gone out of the way; they were altogether become abominable, there was none righteous, no, not one”―“that the wickedness of man was great in the earth”―so great, “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
This is God’s account of man. And this account of the present state of man is confirmed by daily experience.
ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): It is the vain exaltation of ruined nature that makes the gospel so much despised in our age.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The contempt with which the Bible is treated demonstrates that human nature is exactly what God’s Word represents it to be—fallen and depraved—and is unmistakable evidence that the carnal mind is enmity against God…The teachings of the Bible about man are unique. Unlike all other books in the world, the Bible condemns man and all his doings. It never eulogizes his wisdom, nor praises his achievements. On the contrary, it declares that “every man at his best state is altogether vanity,” Psalm 39:5. Instead of teaching that man is a noble character, evolving heavenwards, it tells him that all his righteousnesses―his best works―are as “filthy rags,” that he is a lost sinner, incapable of bettering his condition; that he is deserving only of hell.
JOHN WESLEY: It is true, the natural man discerns it not: and this is not to be wondered at. So long as a man born blind continues so, he is scarce sensible of his want: much less, could we suppose a place where all were born without sight, would they be sensible of the want of it? In like manner, so long as men remain in their natural blindness of understanding, they are not sensible of their spiritual wants, and of this in particular. But as soon as God opens the eyes of their understanding, they see the state they were in before; they are then deeply convinced, that “every man living”―themselves especially, are, by nature, “altogether vanity”―that is, folly and ignorance, sin and wickedness.
A. W. PINK: Such a conception of man—so different from man’s own ideas, and so humiliating to his proud heart—never could have emanated from man himself. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” is a concept that never originated in any human mind.
AUGUSTINE (354-430): Let no man flatter himself: of himself he is a devil.
JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688) (Pilgrim’s Progress):
Ignorance: I will never believe that my heart is thus bad.
Christian: Therefore thou never hadst one good thought concerning thyself in thy life.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): To many men thinking is an unusual employment…Sirs, try yourselves by the experimental test. Have you ever had an experience of your wretchedness, of your depravity, your inability, your death in sin?
THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): Did the sight of your own deformity never make you start?
A. W. PINK: There is in the unregenerate an opposition to spiritual things and an aversion against them…The inability of the natural man to “come to Christ” lies in total depravity of his will.
CHARLES HODGE (1797-1878): The rejection of the Gospel is as clear proof of moral depravity as inability to see the sun at noon is proof of blindness.