So new, so unheard of, so unexpected in this world is the power
of God unto salvation, that it can appear among us, be received and understood
by us, only as a contradiction. The Gospel does not expound or recommend
itself. It does not negotiate or plead, threaten, or make promises.
It withdraws itself always when it is not listened to for its own sake.
Bart: Epistle to the Romans.
It is well worth observing that our Saviour's greatest trials
were near the end of his process or life--that He then experienced the sharpest
part of our redemption. This might sufficiently show us that our first
awakenings have carried us but a little way; that we should not then begin to be
self-assured of our own salvation, but remember that we stand at a great
distance from and in great ignorance of our severest trials.
William Law: Christian Regeneration
Many things seem to be good and yet are not because they be not
done with a good mind and intention; and therefore our Saviour saith in the
Gospel, If thy eye has naught, all thy body shall be dark. For when
the intention is wicked, all the work which followeth is naught, although it
seemed to be never so good.
Gregory the Great: Dialogues
Nor do all these, youth out of infancy, or age out of youth,
arise so, as a phoenix out of the ashes of another phoenix formerly dead, but as
a wasp, or a serpent out of carrion, or as a snake out of dung; our youth is
worse than our infancy, and our age worse than our youths; our youth is hungry
and thirsty after those sins which our infancy knew not, and our age is sorry
and angry that it cannot pursue those sins which our youth did.
Lord, before I commit a sin, it seems to me so shallow that I may
wade through it dry-shod from any guiltiness; but when I have committed it, it
often seems so deep that I cannot escape without drowning.
Thomas Fuller: Good Thoughts in Bad Times
If thou knewest thy sins, thou wouldst lose heart.
Abba John used to say, "We relinquish a light burden when we
condemn ourselves, but we take upon ourselves a heavy burden when we justify
The Paradise of the Fathers
I love thee more ardently than thou hast loved thine abominations.
The ten Commandments, when written by God on tables of stone and
given to man, did not then first begin to belong to man; they had their
existence in man, were born with him, they lay as a seed and power of goodness,
hidden in the form and make of his soul and altogether inseparable from it,
before they were shown to man on tables of stone. And when they were shown
to man on tables of stone, they were only an outward imitation of that which was
inwardly in man, though not legible because of that impurity of flesh and blood
in which they were drowned and swallowed up.
William Law: The Spirit of Love