"We are his workmanship." Eph. 2:10
When I look at the outward privileges of the gospel which are bestowed upon me, they are all the results of God's amazing grace. He chose me for himself. He made me his elect. He bought me with a price. And it is most delightful and encouraging to reflect upon the amazing goodness of God in these wonderful gifts. But when I proceed to look at the work which is to be accomplished within myself, all things are still equally of God. The presence and the power of his Spirit is the fountain of all holiness and strength. This is the origin of religious character within me. All my duties are his gifts. When I repent, and believe, and love, it is because he has before bestowed upon me these inestimable blessings. He first gives to me, and then he asks of me that which he has given. When I ask, How am I to obey him, and to do his will? He answers me, by telling me I am his workmanship. He will make me to do it. He will work within me to will and to do according to his good pleasure.
Am I thus the workmanship of God?
1. How constantly ought I to depend upon his power, and not my own! Vainly shall I contend and strive, unless he works within me. But when he undertakes the work, there is no difficulty. I would resist the power of sin, I would walk in holiness of life, I would fulfill the claims of duty, I would honor him in all the fruits of piety. But I must remember his grace and look to him. He speaks, and it is done. He alone can make me what he would have me to be. This makes every path a privilege. Whatever he requires becomes a blessing, when he is pleased to work it within me. How precious are these gifts! Godly sorrow, true repentance, affectionate submission, active obedience; all these are his works within me, who thus perfects the counsel of his own will. Let me learn to look up to him for all I desire or try to do.
2. How earnestly ought I to seek his grace with constant, effectual, inwrought prayer! This is the great instrument of prevailing, and of conquest. That which is impossible for me, is possible for him. He will never allow me to seek his face in vain. I would resolve to stand with him. I would determine and endeavor in everything to follow him. Then I would seek his constant aid and presence to uphold me. He will always hear me, and will give abundantly. Oh how important becomes such a habit of prayer, in simple dependence on God! It is not merely in set and occasional prayers--these are my privilege and my duty--but the frequent and constant lifting up of my heart and thoughts to God, in secret remembrance and desire. My trials and conflicts may come suddenly. The work of grace must always go forward in my heart. I need therefore to have a constant remembrance of God, as the author of every good work within me. Let me never forget they are not my works, but the works of God. Without him I can do nothing.
3. How watchfully ought I to guard against quenching his Spirit. He will not work upon me as a mere inanimate mass. He must work with me, as a voluntary and accountable being. He gives me light, and knowledge of my duty. He makes me to see my sin. He shows me the path of holiness and obedience. He makes me desire it and love it. He excites and urges me to fulfill his will. Then, when all these blessed gifts are offered, I must not reject his grace, nor trifle with his love. I must not engage in habits which oppose him; nor refuse, nor delay to yield to him. This is most important for me. He makes me willing in the day of his power; let me not resist his will. He speaks in my inmost heart and conscience; let me never be indifferent to his blessed voice. He gives me his Holy Spirit; let me never grieve nor despise him.
4. How anxiously should I improve the opportunities of his grace! He may not always aid me. He will not always. If I neglect him, he may suddenly depart. I ought then to welcome his coming. I ought to rejoice in his readiness to help and support me. Every season of grace is precious. Every means of obtaining his divine influence is inestimable. Ah, I cannot afford to waste any. I have no time or room to trifle with any. Immediate obedience to his voice, instant submission to his command, perfect delight in his appearing, are my only course of safety--the only path of peace. When I hear him speaking in his word, or feel his arresting or awakening power in my conscience, I must yield at once. He has hallowed his sabbaths. He has provided his sanctuary for worship. He has given me my closet, or my corner, for secret prayer. He has collected the assembly of his saints, and promised to be with them. He sanctifies the days of affliction and trial. Oh let me hasten to meet him, to find him, to enjoy his presence, to experience his power, to obtain and improve his gifts. Thus will his gracious workmanship go on, and I shall rejoice in the work of his hands.
5. How precious and important is this title! My due improvement of it will lead me to depend on God the Spirit, and not to refuse him; to seek his presence, to be jealous lest I grieve him; to welcome every opportunity of his manifestation, that I may profit with all. I would apply this blessed truth thus to myself--How precious is his workmanship, as it goes on! How perfect and glorious will it be, when it is completed! How perfectly satisfied shall I be, when I awake up after his likeness! Then shall I rejoice in it, and in him forever.
Descend from heaven, immortal Dove,
Stoop down and take me on your wings,
And mount and bear me far above
The reach of these inferior things!