The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.
Man without the Holy Spirit and without grace can do
nothing but sin, and thus unhaltingly he goes forward from
sin to sin. When in addition he will not endure sound doctrine
but rejects the word of salvation and resists the Holy Spirit,
he becomes an enemy of God, blasphemes the Holy Spirit and
simply follows the evil desires of his heart. Witnesses of this
are the examples of the prophets, Christ and the apostles, the
primeval world under Noah as teacher, and also the examples
of our adversaries to-day, who cannot be convinced by anything
that they are in error, that they sin, that their worship is ungodly.
But we must distinguish between the theological and the
civil standpoints. God approves also the rule of the ungodly;
he honors and rewards virtue also among the ungodly, but only
in regard to the things of this life and things grasped by a
reason which is upright from the civil standpoint; whereas
the future life is not embraced in such reward. His approval
is not with regard to the future life. We believe that man
without the Holy Spirit is altogether corrupt before God, though
he may stand adorned with all heathen virtues, as moderation,
libeiality, love of country, parents and children, courage and
humanity. The declarations of the Holy Scriptures prove the
same thing. The statement in the fourteenth Psalm is sweeping
enough when it says, "The Lord looked down from heaven
upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did
understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are
all together become filthy ; there is none that doeth good ; no,
not one. Paul says, "God hath concluded them all in unbelief."
Christ says, "Without me ye can do nothing."