This is the second post in this series on John Howe’s sermons on Roman 6:13. The prior sermon may be here
Having noted that much depends upon how we consider of “God” to whom we must yield, Howe briefly considers the nature of God as God is to himself. In this, Howe emphasizes the independence and self-existence of God, “You must conceive him to be an eternal, self-subsisting Spirit, not sprung up into being from another, as our souls are: but who, from the excellency of his own being, was necessarily of and from himself; comprehending originally and eternally in himself the fulness of life and being.”
God is independent of all creation for his existence; yet, all existence and all that is in it is contingent upon God:
You must conceive of God therefore as comprehending originally in his own being, which is most peculiar to himself, a power to produce all whatsoever being, excellency, and perfection, is to be found in all the whole creation; for there can be nothing which either is not, or arises not from, what was of itself: and therefore that he is an absolutely, universally, and infinitely perfect Being; and therefore that life, knowledge, wisdom, power, goodness, holiness, justice, truth, and whatsoever other conceivable excellencies, do all in highest perfection belong, as necessary attributes, unchangeably, and without possibility of diminution, unto him, and all which his own word (agreeably to the plain reason of things) doth in multitudes of places ascribe to him, as you that are acquainted with the Bible cannot but know. You must therefore conceive of him, as the ALL in ALL! So great, so excellent, so glorious a ONE he is, to whom you are to surrender and yield yourselves!
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 383. Thus, our yielding to this God is not something strange; but rather something inherent in the nature of our relationship to him (as will be discussed in the next section of the discourse).
Howe then makes an interesting note concerning the nature of God as One and Three-in-One:
And that we so far conceive of them as three, as to apprehend some things spoken of one, that are not to be affirmed of another of them, is so plain, of so great consequence, and the whole frame of practical religion so much depends thereon, and even this transaction of yielding up ourselves, (which must be introductive and fundamental to all the rest,) that it is by no means to be neglected in our daily course, and least of all in this solemn business, as will more appear anon. In the meantime, set this ever blessed, glorious God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, before your eyes, as to whom (thus in himself considered) you are now to yield yourselves.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 384.
This explicitly Trinitarian understanding of God is something missing from much contemporary theology and preaching. Indeed, asking a Christian (often, sadly, even a Christian teacher or preacher), why a Trinitarian understanding matters. In this respect to his emphasis on the Trinity, Howe reminds one of John Owen’s Discourse Concerning Communion With God.