Men are dead to God because they are living to Self. Self-love, self-esteem and self-seeking are the essence and the life of pride; and the Devil, the father of pride, is never absent from these passions, nor without an influence in them. Without a death to self, there is no escape from Satan’s power over us….
To discover the deepest root and iron strength of pride and self-exaltation, one must enter into the secret chamber of man’s soul, where the Spirit of God, who alone gives humility and meek submission, was denied through Adam’s sin….
Here in man’s innermost being, self had its awful birth, and established its throne, reigning over a kingdom of secret pride, of which all outward pomp and vanities are but its childish, transitory playthings….
Imagination, as the last and truest support of self, lays unseen worlds at his feet, and crowns him with secret revenges and fancied honors. This is that satanic, natural self that must be denied and crucified, or there can be no disciple of Christ. There is no plainer interpretation than this that can be put upon the words of Jesus, “Except a man deny self, and take up the cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.”
—William Law, 1761, The Power of the Spirit