I. DIFFIDENCE IN OURSELVES.
1. We Are Nothing of Ourselves,
We are not only dependent on almighty God, but whatever we are in body and soul, in mind and heart — with the exception of sin — is a gift of God. Even virtue and merit is the effect of His grace. Hence we must say with St. Paul, "By the grace of God, I am what I am" (1 Cor. XV. 10).
2. We Can Do Nothing of Ourselves
The same power which created us keeps us in existence. The same God, who implanted a universal desire for happiness in mankind, gives every individual the free will to choose the particular means to attain this happiness. But, if in the natural order man cannot act without God's assistance, how much less can he acquire the treasures of grace and merit in- dependently of God? No wonder the Saviour said: "I am the vine; you are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing" (John xv. 5).
3. Our Nature is Corrupted by Sin.
The helplessness of human nature is intensified by the consequences of sin. In the parable of the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among the robbers the Saviour gives us a picture of human nature corrupted by original sin. This sin of Adam robbed mankind of original justice and holiness, darkened the mind, weakened the will, and inclined human nature to evil. "By one man sin entered into the world,” says St. Paul, '' and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned” (Rom. v. 12).
In addition to this corruption of human nature we individually suffer the consequence of our personal sins and bad habits. As these are truly the fetters of hell, we may all lament with King David; ''I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me" (Ps. 1. 5).
4. Heaven Is Beyond Our Unaided Beach.
Heaven is so completely beyond our unaided reach that we could not even imagine the supernatural order without a direct revelation from God. Much less could we, relying on our unaided strength, hope to attain the perfection and the reward of children of God. Our only hope of heaven is in Him who said to Abraham of old: "Fear not, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceeding great'' (Gen. xv. 1).
5. The Enemies of Our Salvation Are Powerful.