It is not small condemnation of the heart when it is said to be full “trickery and corruption above all things” (Jer. 17 (9)). But because I am attempting to be brief, I will content myself with one reference which is like a very clear mirror to make us contemplate the whole likeness of our nature. For when the apostle wants to strike down the arrogance of the human race he uses testimonies: “There is no one who is righteous, no one who understands rightly, no one who seeks God; all have fallen, all are useless, there is none of them who does good, not a single one, their belly is like an open grave, their tongues are wily, the venom of an asp is under their tongues, their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are quick to shed blood, there is only ruin and tumult in their ways, the fear of God is not at all before their eyes” (Rom. 3 (10-18); inset: Isa 59(7-8)). Be thunders these harsh words not as a specific people but at all descendants of Adam, and he does not rebuke the corrupt morals of an age but he indicts the perpetual corruption of our nature.
For in the place of Paul’s intention is not to rebuke people so that they may change their behavior but rather to teach them that they are all, from first to last, tangled up in such wretchedness that they cannot get out of it unless God’s mercy delivers them. Because this cannot be proved unless it is evident that our nature has fallen into ruin, he cites these testimonies where it is shown that our nature is more than lost. So let it be resolved that people are not the way St. Paul described them simply perverted custom but also by natural corruption, for otherwise the argument which he makes would not hold. It is to show us that we have no salvation except by God’s mercy, since every person is lost and ruined in himself. (79-80)