“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
The Lord works in us unto the very last. After conversion, he continues his grace to help us do his will. All we have is by his gracious gift. What can we be proud of? All of the excellencies that we might have, alas! they are borrowed. Those most enlarged are also the most assisted, for all come from God. We would laugh if the stableman is proud of his master’s horse; shall we then usurp the honor that is due solely to God? ‘What do you have that you did not receive?’ (1 Corinthians 4:7).
We receive grace from hand to mouth. That which we have received will not continue to maintain us unless God supplies new influences of grace. If we labored purely in our own strength, we would soon grow proud. We must have renewed evidences of his love day after day. If God gave us all spiritual blessings at once, we would soon fail to acknowledge our heavenly benefactor. He weakens our corruptions by degrees, and by the renewing influences of his grace.
God left Hezekiah, ‘to test him and to know all that was in his heart’ (2 Chronicles 32:31). God so dispenses grace that he will be going and coming as to his actual influence upon us. He sometimes will leave us to ourselves to reveal the weakness of our own hearts. Though we have grace in our hearts, if God leaves us, how weak and foolish we are! Though we are renewed, we have not fully recovered from the injury we received by the fall of Adam. If God withdraws his life-giving strength, our secret corruptions will break forth and our interest in holy things will soon disappear.
O, the glory of God’s grace! From the first to the last we are indebted to it (Galatians 2:20). We can do nothing without him. When we come to heaven, how will our souls admire the riches of his glorious grace. (Works, 1:145-147)
-Thomas Manton (1620-1677)