August 12: Rev. J. J. Janeway

Christ Himself Is Our Comfort.

A difficult lesson, and a deep theology here, from the diary of the Rev. J. J. Janeway, a prominent Philadelphia pastor in the early 19th-century. 

Sabbath, August 12, 1810. 

“I have been examining myself with respect to my growth in grace, and I find, that although I have reason to mourn, that with the privileges I enjoy I make so small improvement in the Divine life, yet I make some. Blessed be God for it! Oh, to make more rapid advances! On Friday evening I felt much assisted in conducting worship in Mr. Bradford’s family. This day I preached on the great duty of forgiving our enemies. Oh, for a heart truly to forgive mine!

“The Lord was pleased to assist me at His table. I felt some movements of the affections, though not much. I was, however, enabled to act faith in the sacrifice of Christ, so as to have communion with Him in His broken body and shed blood, receiving them as broken and shed for me. My mind was composed, so that I was able to meditate. My confession respected sins, which I have for some time been in the habit of confessing, and my petitions respected blessings, which have for some time formed the burden of my prayers. I hope I prayed in faith, pleading the fulness, the death of Christ, the promises, and oath, and covenant of God, and my future destination to perfect purity. My mind one day last week seemed turned toward the grave, and it seemed that it would be a sweet resting-place. My heart is dreadfully depraved. What envy! What selfishness! I have endeavoured to mourn over them, and nail them to the cross of my Saviour. I pray to be delivered from them. Victories over them, I have, I trust, gained by divine grace, and this is my encouragement to carry on the conflict. Happy period, when I shall be freed from them entirely, and from all other sin!”

The first breach in Dr. Janeway’s family occurred at this time. A child of uncommon loveliness and promise was removed by death. His father returned from church in time to see him expire. There was much of comfort in his departure, and his father was enabled to resign him with humble confidence, into the hands of a gracious God. The lessons of submission which he had enforced on others, he now learned, and all the recorded exercises of his heart were in accordance with the calm dignity of his piety. Gone, but not lost! In glory before the throne, and not amid the sins of earth. On the next Sabbath he endeavoured to improve it to his people’s good, and to profit himself by God’s dealings.

The year closed by asking himself the question, “What comfort do I derive from religion?” and his answer was, that he was not favoured with those lively consolations which are the lot of some of God’s dear people; yet he could share in various ways in its comforts. He blesses God for the steady hope that he enjoyed, and that uneasy doubts seldom disturbed his serene peace. While God’s grace was the cause of this, yet, as a means to this blessed end, he recognizes frequent self-examination, and searching into the nature and evidences of a gracious state. Casting himself, and all his cares and anxieties upon God, with all the unfeigned resignation of a child who trusted in its father, he prays—God’s will be done, and give me grace to acquiesce.

Excerpted from THE LIFE OF DR. J. J. JANEWAY, pp. 176-177.

Words to Live By: 
Dearly beloved, are you pressing to know the Lord Jesus Christ better, to love Him more? Are you seeking after Him with your whole heart? He is your Comfort. Bring all your cares and anxieties and cast yourself upon God, “with all the unfeigned resignation of a child” who trusts in the Father, praying, “God’s will be done, and give me Thy grace.”

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