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This is the third post in this series

Howe will argue that we must “yield” ourselves to God. Therefore, he next underscores aspects of God’s relationship to us which would necessitate such a yielding.  Thus, he notes that God is our Creator and Sustainer. Our very existence depends upon God, he “who renews your life unto you every moment.”

This matter of being our Creator and Sustainer will imply certain aspects which pinch our flesh.

Since God is our Creator and Sustainer, he holds additional relationship to us. He is our Owner. In recognizing such we add nothing to God’s rights:

Your yielding yourselves adds nothing to his rights in you; you therein recognize and acknowledge the right he had in you before; but it add to you a capacity and qualification, both by the tenor of his Gospel-covenant, and in the nature of the thing, for such nobler uses as wither wise you cannot service.

Recognizing his right in us, makes us more serviceable, but it is nothing other than what we owe. If we refuse this acknowledgement, we are no better than “brutes and devils”.

God is also our Teacher:

There is another sort of teaching, which if you yield yourselves to him as your great Instructor, he will vouchsafe unto you. The things you know not, and which it is necessary you should know, he will teach you, i. e. such things as are of real necessity to your true and final welfare, not which only serve to please your fancy, or gratify your curiosity; for his teaching respects an appointed, certain end, suitable to his wisdom and mercy, and to the calamity and danger of your state. The teaching requisite for perishing sinners, was, what they might do to be saved. And when we have cast about in our thoughts never so much, we have no way to take but to yield ourselves to God, who will then be our most undeceiving Guide. To whom it belongs to save us at last, to him only it can belong to lead us in the way to that blessed end.

John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 386. This teaching of God is not new revelation. Rather, God makes the existing revelation effective, it becomes teaching we receive from him:

He will so teach you, as to make you teach yourselves, put an abiding word into you, that shall talk with you when you sit in your houses, and walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and whereby you shall be enabled to commune with your own hearts upon your beds while others sleep; and revolve, or roll over in your minds, dictates of life.

 John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 390. His teaching will not leave you unchanged.

Third, since God is our Creator and Sustainer, God is our Sovereign Ruler:

Though teaching and ruling may be diversely conceived of, they cannot be separate in this case. The nobler and final part of God’s teaching you, is teaching you your duty; what you are to practise and do. And so when he teaches you, he commands you too; and leaves it not arbitrary to you whether you will be directed by him or no. What is his by former right, and by after-consent, and self-resignation, shall it not be governed by him, if it be a subject capable of laws and government, as such consent shows it to be? Your yielding yourselves to God is not a homage but a mockery, if you do it not with a resolution to receive the law from his mouth: and that whereinsoever he commands, you will to your uttermost obey. But in this and the other things that follow, my limits constrain me unto more brevity. Only let not this apprehension of God be frightful; yea, let it be amiable to you, as in itself it is, and cannot but be to you, if you consider the loveliness of his government, the kind design of it, and how suitable it is to the kindest design; that it is a government first and principally over minds, purposely intended to reduce them to a holy and peaceful order, wherein it cannot but continue them, when that kingdom comes to be settled there, which stands in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and all the laws whereof are summed up in love; being such also as in the keeping whereof there is great reward.

John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 392.

Finally, we must consider God as our Benefactor. Now, we often think of a benefactor as someone who does us good by our own sights and according to our own inclination. God is a greater benefactor, because he government and his goodness to us are one. He does us good by being our teacher and sovereign:

The very business of his government is in the first place to alter the temper of your minds; for, continuing carnal, they neither are subject to the law of God, nor can be, as the same place tells you. Therefore if his government take place in you, and you become subject, you become spiritual, the “law of the Spirit of life” having now the possession and the power of you. Nor was it possible he should ever be an effectual Benefactor to you, without being thus an over-powering Ruler; so do these things run into one another. To let you have your own will, and follow your carnal inclination, and cherish and favour you in this course, were to gratify you to your ruin, and concur with you to your being for ever miserable; which you may see plainly if you will understand wherein your true felicity and blessedness must consist, or consider what was intimated concerning it, in the proposal of this head; that he is to be your Benefactor, in being to you himself your supreme and only satisfying Good. He never doth you good effectually and to purpose, till he overcome your carnal inclination.

 John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, vol. 1 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 393.

Finally, we must consider ourselves in this transaction: If God is our Creator, Sustainer, Owner, Teacher, Sovereign and Benefactor, who are we? We are his creatures, but sadly creatures who are apostate and unfit for communion with God; and yet, under the Gospel, we are “sinners invited and called back to God.”