Jacob Jones Janeway

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Last Sunday we posted Question 107 from Rev. Van Horn’s series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and I stated that we would re-run that series, but with some additional content. However, upon reviewing our files here at the PCA Historical Center, I see that we have another bundle of twenty articles by Rev. Van Horn on the doctrines of the Westminster Standards. This was a collection graciously donated a few years ago by the Rev. Vaughn Hathaway, and we’re particularly pleased to have this rather rare set of studies. So for the next twenty Sundays, we’ll be going through this series, and I trust you will find it as profitable as the former series. Today’s message is particularly apt for our times.

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of the Doctrines of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

THE SUBJECT : The Sovereignty of God.

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : Ephesians 1:11; Romans 9:15; 11:36; I Chronicles 29:11; Isaiah 9:6.

REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS — Westminster Confession of Faith : chapter 2, paragraphs 1 2; chapter 3; chapter 10; Westminster Larger Catechism : Questions 7; 12; and 67; Westminster Shorter Catechism : Questions 4; 7; and 31.

This is the doctrine so basic to all other doctrines in God’s Word. This is the doctrine which is the foundation of our very lives. This is the doctrine meaning His absolute right to govern and dispose of all His creatures, simply according to His own good pleasure.

No matter what unsaved man might say, God has not lost control of this world. He cannot do so because as the Supreme, the Infinite, the Eternal Being He exercises absolute sovereignty over the whole of creation.

The question was once asked me, “How many times during a week do you make use of this doctrine?” How could one count the ways in which it is used? In counseling, in comforting, in teaching, in exhorting, and in preaching, this doctrine is the foundation. This doctrine furnishes the child of God with the ability to live and move and have his being while he completes his sojourn on this earth.

How precious it is to have the kind of God who has absolute dominion and authority! This is the kind of God with whom we want to deal in our salvation. So should it be that He is the kind of God with whom we want to deal in our lives after He has saved us. When we think Who He is we should cry out: “Alleluia – for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”

The danger regarding this doctrine is that we will not understand, and practice, an important aspect of it. We must understand that if we are to enjoy the benefits of this doctrine in our lives we must be willing to submit to Him as a Sovereign God. We glorify Him (I Cor. 10:3) when we submit to Him in all things (Rom. 6:13).

John Owens states, “The carnal mind is pleased with nothing of all this, but riseth up in opposition unto every instance of it. It will not bear that the will, wisdom, and pleasure of God should be submitted unto and adored in the paths which it cannot trace.” Though he was speaking primarily of theological matters, his statements are equally true regarding the common problems of God’s children.

A former Professor was fond of saying, when discussing the Sovereignty of God, “What the Bible says, God says, and that ends the matter, period!” There is so much value to this doctrine. We need to be reminded that it :

. . . Deepens our respect for the character of our God for He has “created all things, an for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rom. 4:11);
. . . Tells us of the depth of His wisdom (Rom. 11:33)
. . . Teaches us that His will does not change (Acts 15:18); 
. . . Destroys the heresy of salvation by works for God helps those who are unable to help themselves (Rom. 9:16);
. . . Works against our human pride and teaches us humility for we know what we are, what we have, is unmerited on our part (Psalm 115:1).

This doctrine becomes real to us, becomes practical to us, when we begin to understand what Arthur Pink meant when he said, “God is infinite in power, and therefore it is impossible to withstand His will or resist the outworking of His decrees.” It is good for us to add one word to Pink’s statement, the word “My” right at the beginnin. “My” God is infinite in power and therefore I will not fear what man will do to me. “My” God is infinite in power therefore what time I am afraid I will trust in Him. “My” God is infinite in power and therefore I will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. (Ps. 4:8).

This is the same as saying, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” How we should praise God for this! How it should give to us absolute security! How it should give to us comfort in sorrow! How it should guarantee to us the final triumph of good over evil!

Certainly there are dark hours ahead for all of us. But how glorious it is to know that we will still be in the covenant for He is a Sovereign God whose strong arm is ever encircling us and whose promises are true and will be kept! He states this is His Word. And He proves it repeatedly in the working out of His providence in us.

All this leads us to sing out:

“Now let the feeble all be strong,
And make Jehovah’s power their song; 
His shield is spread o’er every saint,
And thus supported, who can faint?”

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The Koehnken Organ at Covenant Seminary
by the late Robert I. Thomas

cts_organ02smAt the request of Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, then president of Covenant Theological Seminary, a search was launched for a good, used, tracker action pipe organ of suitable size to be located in the chapel which was about to begin construction. Leads were checked out; a two-manual (keyboard) organ at St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio became the best prospect. The church’s congregation had dwindled, the organ had stood mute for years, and the Gothic building was slated for demolition. Negotiations for its purchase were quickly completed and generous members of the seminary board gave funds for its purchase, moving and rebuilding.

Dismantling was arduous and sometimes dangerous and the marathon of trips up and down the winding stairway of the high balcony to carry thousands of parts for packing was exhausting. The Johann H. Koehnken organ at CTS is believed to be the oldest two-manual organ in the state of Missouri. Restoration and building of 19th-century pipe organs requires special skills, dedication and sympathy for this style of instrument, qualities not shared by all organ builders. Louis IX Associates of St. Louis was selected by the Seminary to complete the job of moving the organ and commencing the first stages of restoration. The organ arrived in St. Louis in two large trucks on November 3, 1976, to be stored until the chapel was ready.

This organ contains about 4,500 moving parts, each of which was cleaned, repaired or replicated with a replacement part when necessary in a time-consuming but careful manner. Most of the parts are beautifully handmade of wood, and will last for centuries if properly maintained, though this type of organ requires a minimum of attention except at 50- to 75-year intervals. This organ, over 100 years old, is so constructed that it is able to peal forth the praises of God for hundreds of years more.

cts_organ03smThe original builder of the organ, Johann H. Koehnken [1819-1901] emigrated from his native Saxony, where he had trained as a cabinetmaker and worked as one for two years, to continue his trade in Wheeling, West Virginia,, for another two years before arriving in Cincinnati in 1839. There he was taught organ building by his employer and fellow German Mathias Schwab, who had come to the United States in 1831. Schwab was the West’s first major organ builder, and he supplied finely wrought instruments over a wide area, including Detroit, Baltimore and St. Louis. Of the hundreds of organs built by Schwab, only two are know to exist in original condition and both are in Kentucky.

When Schwab retired in 1860, he left the firm in the hands of Koehnken, and the business became Koehnken & Company. Schwab had hired Gallus Grimm, a German cabinetmaker with four years of organ building experience, in 1853, which led to a life-long partnership which was reflected in the firm’s name after 1875, when it became known as Koehnken & Grimm. After Koehnken’s death, the first was styled Grimm & Son.

The organ at Covenant Seminary is not the first by Koehnken to be in St. Louis. Research located an account of the instance when Koehnken loaded four organs on a flatboat, brought them to St. Louis, and spent seven months here installing them. The firm’s organs were well known throughout the Ohio Valley and in other parts of the Midwest. Tragically, not many of them remain, with most having been needlessly destroyed or discarded as “old.” Those extant are now recognized for their grand sound.

The Search for the Organ’s History.
The organ was built in 1869, four years after Mathias Schwab’s death, for the Mound Street Temple of the K. K. Benai Israel Congregation in Cincinnati, at a cost of $4,900—the price of a fine organ indeed in that era!

When the organ was removed from St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church in Cincinnati in the Fall of 1967, no one knew the organ’s history. But organ historians could take one look at the instrument and tell that it was of a style that predated St. Henry’s, which was built in the 1890’s. The obvious clues to the organ’s earlier date include the large amounts of wood ornamentation above the display pipes, the square stop shanks, and the hitch-down Swell pedal. Furthermore, dates written inside the case went as far back as September, 1872, nearly a year before St. Henry’s previous building was begun, and wherein the ceiling height would not have accommodated the organ.

The large, six-pointed star in the center pinnacle of the case was a clue that indicated the organ may have been built for a Hebrew temple. But such stars are sometimes used in Christian settings as double symbols of the Trinity. At any rate, the old Isaac Wise Temple, a few blocks from St. Henry’s Church in Cincinnati, still had its much large 1866 Koehnken organ, and this was the only organ it had ever had. So the CTS organ could not have come from there.

The confusion began to clear when it was learned that the K. K. Benai Israel Congregation (now spelled “Bene”) in Cincinnati had had, in its Mount Street Temple built in 1869, a Koehnken organ of two manuals and thirty stops, which is the very same as the CTS organ. Accounts of the Temple’s 1869 dedication state that the organ case had features of heavily carved black walnut, with the carving gilded and with the display pipes stenciled in bright colors. The CTS organ had these features, though the colorful stenciling had been obscured by several coats of gold paint. The Mound Street Temple was said to have an architectural blend of Gothic and Arabic styles, and this same blending can be readily seen in the CTS organ case, with its pointed and rounded arches.

The names Harris and Johnson are chalked inside the case with the dates 1872 and 1878. Membership rolls from the Temple, as researched by Mr. Willard Kahn of that congregation, include both names in that general era, and a David Israel Johnson helped found this “first Hebrew congregation of the West” in 1819. Through the courtesy of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, it was learned that St. Henry’s Church acquired the organ as a gift from their men’s club in 1907, which facts fit beautifully with the Hebrew congregation’s move to a new Rockdale Temple in 1906 or 1907 and their abandonment of the Mound Street Temple and its organ. Edward Grimm, son of Gallus Grimm of Koehnken & Grimm, is likely to have effected the move to St. Henry’s in 1907, for some of his business cards were used for bushing beneath the toe boards on the wind chests.

There can be no doubt that this is the organ which was purchased by the K. K. Benai Israel Congregation in 1869, making it one of the fairly early organs in a Hebrew temple in America, the earliest having been built in 1841 by Henry Erben of New York for Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Holy Congregation House of God) in Charleston, South Carolina. Inside the organ, pencilled on a wind trunk, are the initials “M.S.,” which at first led historians to think that the organ might have had some parts built by Mathias Schwab, who died in 1864. But after the link with the K. K. Benai Congregation was made, the initials confirmed it : the builders very likely had written “M.S.” on the wind trunk for the Mound Street organ to distinguish it from other, similar windiness, under construction at the same time for other organs.

Although a few other organs are known to exist in Missouri, they are all small and with but one manual (keyboard). The 1869 Koehnken organ at Covenant Seminary is believed to be the oldest two-manual organ in the state!

Upon completion of construction and the installation of this magnificent organ, the dedication of the Robert G. Rayburn Chapel took place on May 18, 1979. A litany especially composed by Dr. Rayburn was used in the dedication service.

cts_organ01sm

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Pride the Great Enemy of My Soul

Our post today comes from the diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway, who served as associate pastor alongside the Rev. Ashbel Green at the Second Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, beginning in 1799 and remaining at that church until 1828. I have found some pastoral diaries to be among some of the richest Christian reading, and I hope you will 

February 1, 1801. Sabbath.

J.J. Janeway “I perceive that pride is the great enemy of my soul. Often it prevents the enjoyment of God, and enlargement of heart. I must be emptied before I am filled. Alas, that my soul is so foolish and sinful as to indulge in pride. Were I more humble, I should have more communion with God, and more comfort. I think He is humbling me. Blessed be His name, that I, in any measure, see the sin of pride, and the importance of humility, and that I labour in any degree to suppress the rising of pride, and pray with any ardour for humility. I feel my insufficiency for the work of the ministry. But I look to Him, who hath promised:        

‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’

Blessed be God, that I feel a confidence that Jesus will aid me, and teach me how to preach His precious gospel.   I thank Him for past aid.”

Rev. Janeway’s biographer continues:

He frequently complains of his insufficiency for his great work, and seems ready to sink beneath the burdensome responsibility. He clings to the promise, and holds to the anchor. “I feel my insufficiency for my ministerial labors. How shall I go in and out before my people?” are remarks often occurrent.

About this time, a painful trial disturbed, and for years harassed his mind. Bitter and deep seem to have been his sorrows—painful his exercises. In the excess of his conscientiousness, and the lowliness of his humility, he doubted his standing in the affections and esteem of his people. He was young, and stood along side of an accomplished veteran in the service of Christ. His shrinking spirit doubted his qualifications for his great work, in a great city.

We shall not interrupt the narrative, by such large quotations from different years in his journal, which exhibit these painful struggles. They are noted here, in their chronological order, and will occur again, in recitals from his journal, and quotations from letters received from esteemed and distinguished friends, until years after God’s providence made his duty plain, and released the bird from the snare of the fowler.

“My mind is sometimes troubled with thinking about my standing in the affections of my people. I at times, think that I occupy the place of one better qualified for this important station.”

In the second church of our communion on the continent, with such distinguished men for his hearers, his well-known modesty shrunk. But when Philadelphia ceased to be the capital of the Union, and these notables removed, he still doubted his acceptance with the mass of the people; and yet, even then, had he won his way to the hearts of the people, and in a subdued sense, like his gracious Master, it might be said, “the common people heard him gladly.” His kindness to the poor, his open-handed charity, gave him, though he knew it not, a vigorous hold on their love. We shall have frequent occasion to recur to this again, and see it as it doubtless was presented, as part of the discipline of his life, to quicken the graces of his meek and quiet spirit.

Words to Live By:
Here was a true proof of real humility, to have won his people’s hearts by way of honest, real ministry as a faithful shepherd of the Lord’s people. It is the discipline of a faithful pastor’s life, that he will strive to possess and exhibit a servant’s heart, freely spending himself for the lives of his people. In this, Christ is glorified.

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Given some recent discussion on the Web, over whether it is appropriate to speak on political matters from the pulpit, the following seemed an appropriate post today, an excerpt from the diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway, a prominent Philadelphia pastor in the early 19th-century.

J.J. Janeway

Politics ran high, and Philadelphia was the headquarters of the excitement. The old federal party was fast losing its power. “War with Great Britain was advocated by one party, and deprecated by the other. The rancorous debates were unfavourable to religion, and the hopes of the pious were mocked then, as they have been since. Dr. Janeway would have been more than than human, not to have felt some of the influences around him. But we see from his journal, the jealous guard he maintained over his heart.

January 10, 1808, Sabbath.

“Praise to God for prolonging my life to another year. Oh! may this year be spent in the service of my God. Make thy grace, O my God, sufficient for me, and thy strength perfect in my weakness. At the commencement of the year I felt not right; may the latter end be better than the beginning. In conversing on politics, I am too apt to be too engaged, and to feel too keenly. May God give me grace to govern my temper and conversation, and preserve me from taking too great an interest in them. In the heat of debate, I am urged to say what is imprudent and unbecoming. Two instances of such behaviour have occurred last week. May no more occur. I fear lest our expectation of a revival of religion, may not be realized. O Lord God, let the blessing come, and bestow on us a spirit of prayer, that we may wrestle and prevail. Hope, still hope, my soul.”

LIFE OF DR. J. J. JANEWAY, pp. 130-131.

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Learning to Wait Upon the Lord.

The Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway [1774-1858] was an early Philadelphia pastor who served initially as an associate alongside the Rev. Ashbel Green. Rev. Janeway was also a close friend and supporter of the early Princeton Seminary faculty.

In October of 1829, Dr. Green decided to accept a call to serve as president of Princeton College, and the people in his Philadelphia congregation, out of respect to his views of duty, made no opposition. Along with this pastoral bond, a union of the colleagues of thirteen years was to be dissolved. Never had there been variance, but always peace, friendship, and harmony. The junior pastor invoked God’s blessing upon his departing friend, and thus it was that Rev. Janeway wrote in his diary:—

October 25, Sabbath.

J.J. Janeway“This day I stood before my people as their sole pastor. Last Tuesday, Dr. Green was dismissed from his charge. Thus a connection which has subsisted between him and me for almost fourteen years has been dissolved. My burden is great, my station very responsible. I feel its importance and my own insufficiency. I am meditating on the promises, and endeavour to trust in God for all needed aid. He hath said, ‘Lo, I am with you always! My grace is sufficient for you. I will never leave nor forsake you!’ Precious promises ! May my faith be strong! What may be the Lord’s will, I know not. I am praying to know it. Sometimes I think of retiring from this place, in the expectation of becoming more useful by having more time for study. The Lord direct me and preserve me from error. When I touched on the dissolution of our connection, my soul felt, and my voice faltered. I have loved my colleague, and he has loved me. May our friendship be perpetual!”

A separation of the two churches was under discussion. As the one in the Northern Liberties had increased, and was now able to sustain the gospel, Dr. Janeway was in favour of the movement. It drew from the people in the new church, expressions of the most ardent attachment, and they urged as their chief objection, their unwillingness to leave his pastoral care. The Presbytery confirmed the separation, and dissolved the pastoral relation. Dr. Janeway was appointed to organize the First Presbyterian church in the Northern Liberties. Fourteen years and more had he served them, and he was honoured of God in building up the church, by increase in the number of their worshippers, and in bringing souls into his kingdom. When he announced to them that he was no longer their pastor, a great sensation was produced, and in the afternoon he laboured to show that the new arrangements were for their good; and finally, to soothe their feelings, it was required by them, that he should continue to preach with them, in exchange with the minister whom they might call. Deeply gratifying to his feelings was the affection manifested, and long was his memory precious among those who heard the gospel from his lips.

” God has given me,” he writes about this time, ” a very conspicuous station. But my ambition is to have a people that love me, and if it were the pleasure of God, I think I could without reluctance, retire from my present charge to one in the country. What avails being known, except deriving from it opportunity for doing good? May I be humble, active, diligent, successful, useful.” So much was his mind exercised on the subject, that after much prayer, it seemed to him to be his duty to resign his charge, though he decided to wait until the ensuing spring. As far as he could see, his mind decided, for reasons which satisfied him then, to seek a place more retired, and where he hoped to live in the hearts of a rural population. He did not fail to confer with his venerable preceptor, and lay his heart bare. In reply, he received the following letter [from Dr. Green], which, for its excellent spirit and Christian friendship, and as exhibiting a specimen of that excellent and holy man, we insert:—

” With much attention and tender concern I have read your last esteemed letter. I enter fully into your meaning, and I think I know your feelings and views. They are, I hope, correct and proper. The desire you cherish may be well founded; and as such, it will meet with the Divine approbation. But let me remind you, that it is usual with the Lord in His divine providence, to make His children wait for the accomplishment, even of those designs which He Himself has excited. In this way, they learn to live by faith, and exercise patience, which last is one of the most difficult to learn and practise, of all the Christian graces. Let what passes in your mind remain there undisclosed, at least for the present; what you impart to me is sacred and secret, but it will not be advisable as yet, to intimate any fixed design of this kind to your people, because it might alienate your best friends, and until the Lord opens another door it would expose you to very unpleasant consequences. Wait for the Lord and upon the Lord in his time, which is always the best. He will help and provide for you, and perhaps sooner than you may anticipate. In the meantime be not discouraged nor uneasy; read the 37th Psalm, exercise trust and confidence in your covenant Lord—all will be well. But remember, a good place is better than a bad change; but, if a change for the better can be effected, it will be a matter of praise and gratitude. It is sufficiently known among your faithful friends, that you contemplate, if practicable, a removal; they will be mindful of you, and do all they can to meet your wishes.”

[excerpt from The Life of Dr. J. J. Janeway, D.D., pp. 185-186.]

Words to Live By:
A pastor once counseled another, “If you don’t know what you should do, stay where you are until you do. I am convinced that God has important work where you are; see it and enter into it zealously until God clearly shows you the next move.”
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

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There is much that can be learned from funeral sermons for great men, particularly when delivered by great men. Of course, all men are sinners, and none are great in or of themselves. They are made great by their service to a far, far greater Lord and Master, and it is for their service that we value their lives, as examples of those who gave all glory and praise to the one triune God. Here, the Rev. Charles Hodge delivers the funeral sermon for his long-time friend, the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway, a distinguished 19th-century Presbyterian. 

A Fond Tribute for a Dear Brother in Christ.

FUNERAL SERMON
BY THE REV. CHARLES HODGE, D.D.

J.J. JanewayFRIENDS AND BRETHREN:—We have assembled to pay our last tribute of respect to a venerable servant of God. After a life devoted with singular simplicity of purpose to the service of his Master, he descends to the grave with a reputation without a blot, followed by the benedictions of hundreds, and by the respectful affection of thousands. A long, prosperous, happy and useful life, has been crowned with a truly Christian death. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like his.”

Rev. Jacob J. Janeway was born in the city of New York, Nov. 1774. He pursued his academical studies in Columbia College, and graduated with distinguished honour in that institution. His theological education was conducted under the late venerable Dr. Livingston, so long the ornament of the Dutch Church in America. He was ordained in 1799, to the sacred ministry, and installed as an associate pastor with the Rev. Ashbel Green, D.D., over the Second Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. In 1818, he was chosen Moderator of the General Assembly, and for many years acted first as Chairman of the Committee of Missions, and afterwards as President of the Board of Missions, an office which he filled at the time of his death. In 1813, he was elected a Director of the Theological Seminary at Princeton, an institution in the origin of which he took an active part, and continued through life one of its most faithful and important friends. He was elected Vice-President of the Board of Directors, and after the death of Dr. Green, was made President of the Board. He was elected a Trustee of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton, in 1813, and at different times served in that capacity thirty-three years. He continued to serve as Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia until 1828, when he was chosen by the General Assembly to fill the Chair of Didactic Theology in the Western Theological Seminary at Allegheny, Pennsylvania. After resigning that position he was called to the Pastoral office of the First Dutch Reformed Church in this city, in 1830, and in 1833 was made Vice-President of Rutgers College. After his resignation of that office, he devoted his time to the general service of the Church, labouring assiduously in the Boards of Foreign and Domestic Missions, and in the oversight of our Theological and Collegiate Institutions, and in the use of his pen as long as his strength lasted. The numerous offices to which he was elected by the choice of his brethren, and his long continuance in those offices, are proofs of the high estimation in which he was held. These were chaplets placed on his brow by those who knew him best, and they were sustained there by the reverent hand of affection, even after he had become, from the infirmities of age, too feeble to bear their weight. Well may his children and friends contemplate such a life as this with tender reverence, and with sincere gratitude to God. As they gather round his tomb, the voice which each hears in his own heart, Well done good and faithful servant, is only the feeble echo of that plaudit with which his purified spirit has been already introduced into the joys of the Lord.

The extensive and long continued influence exercised by our venerated father, the numerous and important offices which he filled, are sufficient evidence of the estimate placed on his abilities and learning by those with whom he acted. He was eminently a wise man. A man whose judgments were clear and decided, and whose advice always carried with it peculiar weight. His remarkable placidity of temper, his amiable and courteous manners, his uniform regard for the feelings of others, carried him even through the severest conflicts without a scar. So far as we know, he never gave offence or made an enemy. His integrity was unimpeachable. He was truthful, frank, and honest. Always open in the expression of his convictions, no man was ever in doubt where he stood, or which side he occupied on any question of doctrine or policy. He was utterly incapable of chicanery or manoeuvring. He never attempted to attain his objects by any underhand measures. The end and the means were always openly announced and publicly avowed. As a preacher, Dr. Janeway was instructive, earnest, and faithful. As a pastor, he was indefatigable in his attention to the young, the sick, the afflicted and the inquiring. His zeal for sound doctrine was one of the most prominent traits of his character, and had much to do in determining the whole course of his life. His zeal was not unenlightened bigotry, but arose from the clear perception of the importance of truth to holiness. He was satisfied that the salvation of men and the glory of God were dependent on the preservation of the gospel in its purity. He was therefore always on the alert, always among the foremost in opposing every form of error. For this fidelity he is to be had in grateful remembrance. A more consistent man is not to be found in our long-catalogue of ministers. Consistent not only in the sense of being constant in his opinions, but in the correspondence of his deportment with his professions and with his social position and official station. There was nothing worldly in his spirit, or ostentatious in his mode of living. He was an exemplary Christian gentleman. God preserved him from those cancers of the soul, covetousness and avarice, which often eat out the life even of men professing godliness. He was a large and generous giver. It is believed that he regularly gave away the one-fifth of his income. All our benevolent operations can bear witness to the liberality and constancy of his benefactions. All that we have said, however, might be true; our revered father might have been thus amiable and upright as a man, thus consistent and irreproachable in his life, thus zealous for the truth, and thus generous in his benefactions, and yet come far short of what he really was. That which was the groundwork of his character, that which elevated his virtues into graces, was his deep, unaffected piety, not the religion of nature, not merely devout feelings excited by a consideration of the greatness and goodness of God, which so many mistake for Christian experience, but that love of God which flows from the apprehension of his glory in the person of his Son, and from the assurance of his love as manifested in Christ to the guilty and the polluted. Dr. Janeway was not only a religious man, but a Christian, a penitent believer in Christ, living in humble fellowship with God and with his Son our Saviour; living therefore not for himself but for Him who died for him and rose again.

He fought a good fight, he kept the faith, and henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give him at that day. Christian brethren, how can we better employ the few moments which we are permitted to spend around the coffin of this faithful soldier of Christ, than in meditating on the nature and reward of that conflict which he so long sustained, and which, by the grace of God, he brought to so joyful an issue ?

To read the remainder of Dr. Hodge’s funeral sermon, click here.

Words to Live By:
Christians love the gift of life as received from the Lord, yet we welcome the approach of death as that which has been conquered by an all-victorious Savior. To die in Christ is to enter into His presence. To die apart from Him is to enter into an endless misery.

“By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.”
Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 14, paragraph 2. [emphasis added]

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A Desire to Effect a Reformation

J.J. JanewayThe Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway [1774-1858] was an early Philadelphia pastor who served initially as an associate alongside the Rev. Ashbel Green. Rev. Janeway was also a close friend and supporter of the early Princeton Seminary faculty.

When the new year of 1800 opened, the Rev. J. J. Janeway was found on its threshold with a strong desire to “effect a reformation” in his heart and life. He wrote in his diary, “On examination, it is found that early rising, fervency in devotion, religious reflections in company, humility, courage, disinterested benevolence, and much engagedness are particularly worthy my attention in this reformation. May God enable me to reform. Amen.”

It was not a short-lived expectation or goal for Rev. Janeway. He persisted. On June 26th of that same year, he wrote in his diary:

“This day I spent in fasting and prayer for the blessing of Almighty God on my ministry. I have read the Scriptures; meditated and prayed. Confession of sins has been made. I have entreated God to bestow on me courage, wisdom, prudence, ardent piety, circumspection, a feeling sense of the importance of divine truth, compassion for the souls of men. I have prayed that I may propose divine truth with clearness, illustrate it with wisdom, and urge it with affection and energy; that I may be furnished for my work abundantly; that I may be a wise, faithful, able and successful minister of the Lord Jesus.”

Words to Live By:
An able, effective, and pointed prayer for any pastor. And in a similar way, for any and all who claim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. May each of us press closer to know the Lord, to seek His face, to draw near to Him day by day. Read the Scriptures. Dwell upon their meaning and pray. Confess your sins and ask God to give you what is needed for this day, to live to His glory.

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It seems good to change the pace every now and then. For one, these posts need not be lengthy, particularly when they are as substantive as this that follows. Today’s post is a communion meditation drawn from the diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway [1774-1858], who was first associate pastor under Dr. Ashbel Green and later pastor at the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. Janeway also served for many years as a director of the Princeton Theological Seminary. This is a brief entry, but powerful. I hope you will read it over more than once.

J.J. JanewaySabbath, February 18, 1809.

“This day, in company with many of my fellow-Christians, I commemorated the dying love of our Lord Jesus Christ. I endeavoured, though imperfectly, to make preparation for the ordinance. During the first part of Divine service this morning, I felt dull and unaffected, but by seeking the Spirit’s aid, my heart began to be moved. At the table, my thoughts were collected, and I felt ability to meditate on the sufferings of my Lord. I was enabled to confess my sins, and mourn over them, and ask pardon. I trust that I transacted in faith, and had communion in the body and blood of Christ, as I received the sacred symbols as his body broken for me, and his blood shed for me, and entertained a comfortable confidence that I should derive nourishment and strength from this heavenly meat and drink. I enjoyed the presence, I think, of my Lord, and felt some strong emotions of admiration at his condescending to suffer for me, an unworthy and hell-deserving wretch; and I presented my requests with a holy freedom and earnestness. My prayers embraced a variety of objects, and related to my several wants, to my wife, family, relatives, ministry, people, country. On the whole, it was good for me to be at the Lord’s table; and I trust that my soul has received nourishment and strength. Blessed be my Lord and Saviour! Oh, pardon the sins of my holy things !”

[Memoir of the Rev. Jacob J. Janeway, D.D., (1861)p. 153-154.]

Words to Live By:
Does your heart hunger and thirst to know the Lord and to know Him better? When your thoughts are dull and unaffected, seek the Spirit’s aid. Draw near to the Lord and enjoy His presence. Let your mind dwell upon all that He has done for you. Let your prayers be full of praise to the King of glory.

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Another entry from the diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway:

Sabbath, January 12, 1806.
This day I was assisted, I trust, in preaching on the words, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” [Luke 18:13].  I pray it may do good. But I had not that sense of Divine presence, and sweet relish of Divine truth which I wish, whenever I ascend the sacred desk. I lamented my coldness in prayer, and besought Divine assistance.

Taking that lead provided by Rev. Janeway, and lacking a sermon for this date by any Presbyterian, we turn instead for our Lord’s Day sermon to a good friend from among the Baptists, the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon:—

A Sermon for the Worst Man on Earth : A sermon delivered on the Lord’s Day morning, 20 February 1886.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13.

It was the fault of the Pharisee that though he went up into the Temple to pray, he did not pray. There is no prayer in all that he said. It is one excellence of the publican that he went up to the Temple to pray and he did pray—there is nothing but prayer in all that he said. “God be merciful to me a sinner” is a pure, unadulterated prayer throughout! It was the fault of the Pharisee that when he went up to the Temple to pray, he forgot an essential part of prayer which is confession of sinhe spoke as if he had no sins to confess, but many virtues to parade. It was a chief excellence in the devotion of the publican that he did confess his sin, yes, that his utterance was full of confession of sin! From beginning to end it was an acknowledgment of his guilt and an appeal for Grace to the merciful God. The prayer of the publican is admirable for its fullness of meaning. An expositor calls it a holy telegram—and certainly it is so compact and so condensed, so free from superfluous words—that it is worthy to be called by that name. I do not see how he could have expressed his meaning more fully or more briefly. In the original Greek the words are even fewer than in the English. Oh, that men would learn to pray with less of language and more of meaning! What great things are packed away in this short petition! God, mercy, sin, the propitiation and forgiveness!

He speaks of great matters—trifles are not thought of! He has nothing to do with fasting twice in the week, or the paying of tithes and such second-rate things. The matters he treats of are of a higher order. His trembling heart moves among sublimities which overcome him and he speaks in tones consistent therewith. He deals with the greatest things that ever can be—he pleads for his life, his soul! Where could he find themes more weighty, more vital to his eternal in- terests? He is not playing at prayer, but pleading in awful earnest. His supplication speeded well with God and he speedily won his suit with Heaven. Mercy granted to him full justification! The prayer so pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, who heard it, that He condescended to become a portrait painter and took a sketch of the petitioner. I say the prayer in itself was so pleasing to the gracious Savior that He tells us how it was offered—“Standing afar off, he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast.” Luke, who, according to tradition, was somewhat of an artist as well as a physician, takes great care to place this picture in the national portrait gallery of men saved by Sovereign Grace. Here we have the portrait of a man who called himself a sinner who may still be held up as a pattern to saints! I am glad to have the Divine sketch of this man, that I may see the bodily form of his devotion. I am more glad, still, to have his prayer, that we may look into the very soul of his pleading.

My heart’s desire this morning is that many here may seek mercy of the Lord as this publican did—and go down to their houses justified! I ask no man to use the same words. Let no man attach a superstitious value to them. Alas, this prayer has been used flippantly, foolishly and almost looked upon as a sort of charm! Some have said—“We may live as we like, for we have only to say, ‘God be merciful to me,’ when we are dying, and all will be well.” This is a wicked mis- use of Gospel Truth! Yes, it turns it into a lie! If you choose thus to pervert the Grace of the Gospel to your own destruc- tion, your blood must be on your own heads! You may not have space given you in which to breathe out even this brief sentence, or, if you have, the words may not come from your heart and so you may die in your sins. I pray you, do not thus presume upon the forbearance of God! But, if with the publican’s heart, we can take the publican’s attitude. If with the publican’s spirit we can use the publican’s words, then there will follow a gracious acceptance and we shall go home justified. If such is the case, there will be grand times today, for angels will rejoice over sinners reconciled to God and made to know in their own souls the boundless mercy of the Lord!

In preaching upon the text, I shall endeavor to bring out its innermost spirit. May we be taught of the Spirit so that we may learn four lessons from it!

I.  The first is this—the fact of sinnership is no reason for despair. You need, none of you, say, “I am guilty and, therefore, I may not approach God. I am so greatly guilty that it would be too daring a thing for me to ask for mercy.” Dismiss such thoughts at once! My text and a thousand other arguments forbid despair.

For, first, this man who was a sinner yet dared to approach the Lord. According to our version, he said, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” but a more accurate rendering is that which the Revised Version puts in the margin—the sinner.” He meant to say that he was emphatically the sinner. The Pharisee yonder was the saint of his age, but this publican who stood afar off from the holy place was the sinner. If there was not another sinner in the world, he was one—and in a world of sinners he was a prominent offender—the sinner of sinners! Emphatically he applies to himself the guilty name. He takes the chief place in condemnation and yet he cries, “God be merciful to me the sinner.”

Now if you know yourself to be a sinner, you may plead with God, but if you mourn that you are not only a sinner, but the sinner with the definite article—the sinner above all others—you may still hope in the mercy of the Lord. The worst, the most profane, the most horrible of sinners may venture, as this man did, to approach the God of mercy! I know that it looks like a daring action and, therefore, you must do it by faith. On any other footing but that of faith in the mercy of God, you who are a sinner may not dare to approach the Lord lest you be found guilty of presumption. But with your eyes on mercy, you may be bravely trustful. Believe in the great mercy of God and though your sins are abun- dant, you will find that the Lord will abundantly pardon! Though they blot your character, the Lord will blot them out! Though they are red like crimson, yet the precious blood of Jesus will make you whiter than snow!

This story of the Pharisee and the publican is intended as an encouraging example to you. If this man who was the sinner found forgiveness, so shall you, also, if you seek it in the same way. One sinner has speeded so well—why should not you? Come and try for yourself and see if the Lord does not prove in your case that His mercy endures forever.

Next, remember that you may not only find encouragement in looking at the sinner who sought his God, but in the God whom he sought. Sinner, there is great mercy in the heart of God. How often did that verse ring out as a chorus in the temple song—

For His mercy shall endure
Ever faithful, ever sure!”

Mercy is a specially glorious attribute of Jehovah, the living God. He is “the Lord God, merciful and gracious.” He is “slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.” Do you not see how this should cheer you? Sinners are necessary if mercy is to be indulged! How can the Lord display His mercy except to the guilty? Goodness is for creatures, but mercy is for sinners! Towards unfallen creatures there may be love, but there cannot be mercy. Angels are not fit recipients of mercy. They do not require it, for they have not transgressed. Mercy comes into exercise after Law has been broken, not till then. Among the attributes, it is the last which found scope for itself. So to speak, it is the Benjamin and the darling attribute of God—“He delights in mercy.” Only to a sinner can God be merciful. Do you hear this, you sinner? Be sure that you catch at it! If there is boundless mercy in the heart of God and it can only exercise itself towards the guilty, then you are the man to have it, for you are a guilty one! Come, then, and let His mercy wrap you about like a garment this day and cover all your shame. Does not God’s delight in mercy prove that sinnership is no reason for despair?

Moreover, the conception of salvation implies hope for sinners. That salvation which we preach to you every day is glad tidings for the guilty. Salvation by Grace implies that men are guilty. Salvation means not the reward of the right- eous, but the cleansing of the unrighteous. Salvation is meant for the lost, the ruined, the undone! And the blessings which it brings of pardoning mercy and cleansing Grace must be intended for the guilty and polluted. “The whole need not a physician.” The physician has his eyes upon the sick. Alms are for the poor, bread is for the hungry, pardon is for the guilty. O you that are guilty, you are the men that Mercy seeks after! You were in God’s eyes when He sent His Son into the world to save sinners! From the very first inception of redemption to the completion of it, the eyes of the great God were set on the guilty—not on the deserving! The very name of Jesus tells us that He shall save His people from their sins.

Let me further say that inasmuch as that salvation of God is a great one, it must have been intended to meet great sins. O Sirs, would Christ have shed the blood of His heart for some trifling, venial sins which your tears could wash away? Do you think God would have given His dear Son to die as a mere superfluity? If sin had been a small matter, a little sacrifice would have sufficed. Do you think that the Divine Atonement was made only for small offenses? Did Jesus die for little sins and leave the great ones unatoned for? No, the Lord God measured the greatness of our sin and found it high as Heaven, deep as Hell and broad as the infinite and, therefore, He gave so great a Savior. He gave His only-begotten Son, an infinite Sacrifice, an immeasurable Atonement. With such throes and pangs of death as never can be fully described, the Lord Jesus poured out His soul in unknown sufferings that He might provide a great salvation for the greatest of sinners. See Jesus on the Cross and learn that all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men! The fact of salvation and of a great salvation, ought to drive away the very notion of despair from every heart that hears of it! Salvation, that is for me, for I am lost! A great salvation, that is for me, for I am the greatest of sinners! Oh, hear my word this day! It is God’s Word of love and it rings out like a silver bell! O my beloved Hearers, I weep over you and yet I feel like singing all the time, for I am sent to proclaim salvation from the Lord for the very worst of you!

The Gospel is especially, definitely and distinctly addressed to sinners. Listen to it—“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Gospel is like a letter directed in a clear and legible hand—and if you will read its direction, you will find that it runs thus—“To the Sinner.” O Sinners, the word of this salvation is sent to you! If you are a sinner, you are the very man for whom the Gospel is intended and I do not mean, by this, a merely complimentary nominal sinner, but an out-and-out rebel, a transgressor against God and man! O Sinner, seize upon the Gospel with joyful eagerness and cry unto God for mercy at once!—

“’Twas for sinners that He suffered Agonies unspeakable! Can you doubt you are a sinner? If you can—then hope, farewell. But, believing what is written— ‘All are guilty’—‘dead in sin’ Looking to the Crucified One, Hope shall rise your soul within.”

If you will think of it again, there must be hope for sinners, for the great commands of the Gospel are most suitable to sinners. Hear, for instance, this Word of God—“Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Who can repent but the guilty? Who can be converted but those who are on the wrong track and, therefore, need to be turned? The following text is evidently addressed to those who are good for nothing—“Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” The very word, “repent,” indicates that it is addressed to those who have sinned—let it beckon you to mercy!

Then you are bid to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, salvation by faith must be for guilty men, for the way of life for the innocent is by perseverance in good works. The Law says, “This do, and live.” The Gospel talks of salvation by believing because it is the only way possible for those who have broken the Law and are condemned by it. Salvation is of faith that it might be by Grace. Believe and live! Believe and live! Believe and live! This is the jubilee note of the trumpet of Free Grace. Oh, that you would know the joyful sound and thus be blessed! Oh, that you that are sinful would hear the call as addressed to you in particular! You are up to your necks in the mire of sin, but a mighty hand is stretched out to deliver you. “Repent and believe the Gospel!”

If you need any other argument—and I hope you do not—I would put it thus—great sinners have been saved. All sorts of sinners are being saved today. What wonders some of us have seen! What wonders have been worked in this Tabernacle! A man was heard at a Prayer Meeting pleading in louder tones than usual. He was a sailor and his voice was pitched to the tune of the roaring billows. A lady whispered to her friend, “Is that Captain F_______?” “Yes” said the other, “why do you ask?” “Because,” said she, “the last time I heard that voice, its swearing made my blood run cold! The man’s oaths were terrible beyond measure. Can it be the same man?” Someone observed, “Go and ask him.” The lady timidly said, “Are you the same Captain F_______ that I heard swearing in the street, outside my house?” “Well,” he said, “I am the same person, and yet, thank God, I am not the same!” O Brothers and Sisters, such were some of us, but we are washed, we are sanctified! Wonders of Divine Grace belong to God!

I was reading the other day a story of an old shepherd who had never attended a place of worship, but when he had grown gray and was near to die, he was drawn by curiosity into the Methodist chapel, and all was new to him. Hard-hearted old fellow as he was, he was noticed to shed tears during the sermon. He had obtained a glimpse of hope. He saw that there was mercy even for him! He laid hold on eternal life at once! The surprise was great when he was seen at the chapel and greater still when, on the Monday night, he was seen at the Prayer Meeting—yes, and heard at the Prayer Meeting, for he fell down on his knees and praised God that he had found mercy! Do you wonder that the Methodists shouted, “Bless the Lord”? Wherever Christ is preached, the most wicked of men and women are made to sit at the Savior’s feet, “clothed, and in their right minds.” My Hearer, why should it not be so with you? At any rate, we have full proof of the fact that sinnership is no reason for despair.

II.  I must now advance to my second observation—a sense of sinnership confers no right to mercy. You will wonder why I mention this self-evident truth, but I must mention it because of a common error which does great mischief. This man was very sensible of his sin insomuch that he called himself, the sinner, but he did not urge his sense of sin as any reason why he should find mercy. There is an ingenuity in the heart of man, nothing less than devilish, by which he will, if he can, turn the Gospel, itself, into a yoke of bondage. If we preach to sinners that they may come to Christ in all their anguish and misery, one cries—“I do not feel myself to be a sinner as I ought to feel it! I have not felt those convictions of which you speak and, therefore, I cannot come to Jesus!” This is a horrible twist of our meaning! We never meant to insinuate that convictions and doubts and despondencies conferred upon men a claim to mercy, or were necessary preparations for Grace. I want you, therefore, to learn that a sense of sin gives no man a right to Divine Grace.

If a deep sense of sin entitled men to mercy, it would be a turning of this parable upside down. Do you dream that this publican was, after all, a Pharisee differently dressed? Do you imagine that he really meant to plead, “God be merciful to me because I am humble and lowly”? Did he say in his heart, “Lord, have mercy upon me because I am not a Pharisee and am deeply despondent on account of my evil ways”? This would prove that he was, in his heart of hearts, a Pharisee! If you make a righteousness out of your feelings, you are just as much out of the true way as if you made a righteousness out of your works. Whether it is work or feeling, anything which is relied upon as a claim for Grace is an antichrist! You are no more to be saved because of your conscious miseries than because of your conscious merits! There is no virtue either in the one or in the other. If you make a Savior of convictions, you will be lost as surely as if you made a Savior out of ceremonies! The publican trusted in Divine Mercy and not in his own convictions. And you must do the same.

To imagine that an awful sense of sin constituted a claim upon mercy would be like giving a premium to great sin. Certain seekers think, “I have never been a drunk, or a swearer, or unchaste, but I almost wish I had been, that I might feel myself to be the chief of sinners and so might come to Jesus.” Do not wish anything so atrocious! There is no good in sin in any shape or fashion! Thank God if you have been kept from the grosser forms of vice. Do not imagine that repentance is easier when sin is grosser—the reverse is true. Do believe that there is no advantage in having been a horrible offender. You have sins enough—to be worse would not be better. If good works do not help you, certainly bad works do not! You that have been moral and excellent should cry for mercy and not be so silly as to dream that greater sins would help you to readier repentance! Come as you are and if your heart is hard, confess it as one of your greatest sins. A deeper sense of sin would not entitle you to the mercy of God—you can have no title to mercy but that which mercy gives you. Could your tears flow forever—could your grief know no respite—you would have no claim upon the Sovereign Grace of God, who will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

Then, dear Friends, remember, if we begin to preach to sinners that they must have a certain sense of sin and a cer- tain measure of conviction, such teaching would turn the sinner away from God in Christ to himself. The man begins at once to say, “Have I a broken heart? Do I feel the burden of sin?” This is only another form of looking to self. Man must not look to himself to find reasons for God’s Grace. The remedy does not lie in the seat of the disease—it lies in the Physician’s hands. A sense of sin is not a claim, but a gift of that blessed Savior who is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. Beware of any teaching which makes you look to yourself for help! You must, rather, cling to that doctrine which makes you look only to Christ! Whether you know it or not, you are a lost, ruined sinner, only fit to be cast into the flames of Hell forever. Confess this, but do not ask to be driven mad by a sense of it. Come to Jesus just as you are and do not wait for a preparation made out of your own miseries. Look to Jesus and to Him alone.

If we fall into the notion that a certain sense of sin has a claim upon God, we shall be putting salvation upon other grounds than that of faith—and that would be false ground. Now, the ground of salvation is—“God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” A simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the way of salvation! But to say, “I shall be saved because I am horribly convicted of sin and driven to desperation,” is not to speak like the Gospel, but to rave out of the pride of an unbelieving heart. The Gospel is that you believe in Christ Jesus; that you get right out of yourself and depend alone on Him! Do you say, “I feel so guilty”? You are certainly guilty, whether you feel it or not! And you are far more guilty than you have any idea of. Come to Christ because you are guilty, not because you have been prepared to come by looking at your guilt! Trust nothing of your own, not even your sense of need. A man may have a sense of disease a long time before he will get healing out of it. The looking-glass of conviction reveals the spots on our face, but it cannot wash them away. You cannot fill your hands by putting them into your empty pocket and feeling how empty it is! It would be far wiser to hold them out and receive the gold which your friend so freely gives you. “God be merciful to me a sinner” is the right way to put it, but not, “God be merciful to me because I sufficiently feel my sinnership, and most fittingly bewail it.”

III.  My third observation is this—the knowledge of their sinnership guides men to right action. When a man has learned of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner, then by a kind of instinct of the new life, he does the right thing in the right way. This publican had not often been to the Temple and had not learned the orthodox way of behaving. It is easy to learn how we all do it nowadays in our temples—take off your hat, hold it in front of your face and read the maker’s name and address! Then sit down and, at the proper moment, bend forward and cover your eyes and, furthermore, stand up when the rest of the congregation does. People get to do this just as if they were wound up by machinery—yet they do not pray when they are supposed to be praying, nor bow before the Lord when worship is being offered.

This publican is out of rank! He does not follow the rubric. He has gestures of his own. First, instead of coming for- ward, he stands afar off. He does not dare to come where that most respectable person, the Pharisee, is displaying himself, for he does not feel worthy. He leaves space between himself and God, an opening for a Mediator, room for an Advocate, place for an Intercessor to interpose between himself and the Throne of the Most High! Wise man, thus, to stand afar off! For by this means he could safely draw near in the Person of Jesus. Furthermore, he would not lift so much as his eyes to Heaven. It seems natural to lift up your hands in prayer, but he would not even lift his eyes. The uplifting of the eyes is very proper, is it not? But it was still more proper for “the sinner” not to lift his eyes. His downcast eyes meant much.

Our Lord does not say that he could not lift up his eyes, but he would not. He could look up, for he did in spirit look up as he cried, “God be merciful to me.” But he would not because it seemed indecorous for eyes like his to peer into the Heaven where dwells the holy God. Meanwhile, the penitent publican kept smiting upon his breast. The original does not say that he smote upon his breast once, but he smote and smote again! It was a continuous act. He seemed to say—“Oh, this wicked heart!” He would smite it. Again and again he expressed his intense grief by this Oriental gesture, for he did not know how else to set forth his sorrow. His heart had sinned and he smote it! His eyes had led him astray and he made them look down to the earth. And as he, himself, had sinned by living far off from God, he banished himself far from the manifest Presence.

Every gesture and posture is significant and yet all came spontaneously. He had no book of directions how to behave himself in the House of God, but his sincerity guided him. If you want to know how to behave yourselves as penitents, be penitents. The best rubrics of worship are those which are written on broken hearts. I have heard of a minister who was said to cry in the wrong place in his sermons—and it was found afterwards that he had written in the margin of his manuscript, “Weep here.” His audience could not see the reason for his artificial moisture. It must have had a ludicrous effect. In religion everything artificial is ridiculous, or worse! But Grace in the heart is the best “master of the ceremo- nies.” He who prays aright with his heart will not much err with foot, hand, or head. If you would know how to approach God, confess yourself a sinner and so take your true place before the God of Truth—throw yourself on Divine Mercy and thus place God in His true position as your Judge and Lord.

Observe that this man, even under the weight of conscious sin, was led aright, for he went straight away to God. A sense of sin without faith drives us from God, but a sense of sin with faith draws us immediately to God. He came to God alone. He felt that it would be of no avail to confess his fault to a mortal, or to look for absolution from a man. He did not resort to the priest of the Temple, but to the God of the Temple! He did not ask to speak to the good and learned man, the Pharisee, who stood on the same floor with him. His Enquiry Room was the secret of his own soul and he en- quired of the Lord. He ran straight away to God, who alone was able to help. And when he opened his mouth, it was, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That is what you have to do, my dear Hearer, if you would be saved—you must go distinctly and immediately to God in Christ Jesus. Forget all things else and say, with the returning prodigal, “I will arise and go to my Father.” None but God can help us out of our low estate! No mercy but the mercy of God can serve our turn and none can give us that mercy but the God of Mercy! Let every broken-down sinner come to his God, against whom he has offended.

The publican did not look round on his fellow worshippers—he was too much absorbed in his own grief of heart. Especially is it noteworthy that he had no remarks to make upon the Pharisee. He did not denounce the pride, or the hypocrisy, or the hard-heartedness of the professor who so offensively looked down upon him. He did not return contempt for contempt, as we are all too apt to do. No, he dealt with the Lord alone in the deep sincerity of his own heart—and it was well. My Hearer, when will you do the same? When will you cease to censure others and reserve your severity for yourself, your critical observations for your own conduct?

When he came to God, it was with a full confession of sin—God be merciful to me a sinner.” His very eyes and hands joined with his lips in acknowledging his iniquities. His prayer was wet with the dews of repentance. He poured out his heart before God in the most free and artless manner—his prayer came from the same fountain as that of the prodigal when he said, “Father, I have sinned,” and that of David when he cried, “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.” That is the best praying which comes from the lowliest heart.

Then he appealed to mercy only. This was wise. See how rightly he was guided. What had he to do with justice, since it could only condemn and destroy him? Like a naked sword, it threatens to sheathe itself in my heart—how can I appeal to justice? Neither power nor wisdom, nor any other quality of the great God could be resorted to—only Mercy stretched out her wing. The prayer, “God be merciful,” is the only prayer that you who have been greatly guilty can pray. If all your lives you have spurned your Savior, all you can now do is to cast yourselves upon the mercy of God.

The original Greek permits us to see that this man had an eye to the Propitiation. I do not say that he fully under- stood the doctrine of Atonement, but still, his prayer was, “God be propitiated to me, the sinner.” He had seen the morning and the evening lamb and he had heard of the sin-offering. And though he might not have known all about atonement, expiation and substitution, yet as far as he did know, his eyes were turned that way. “O God, be propitiated, accept a sacrifice and pardon me!” If you know your sin, you will be wise to plead the Propitiation which God has set forth for human sin. May the Spirit of God constrain you to trust in Jesus now! The new year is already gliding away— its second month is slipping from under us—how many months are to go before you, a guilty sinner, will come and ask mercy of God, the infinitely-gracious One? Great God, let this day be the day of Your power!

IV.  I now close with my last head, which is this—the believing confession of sinnership is the way of peace. “God be merciful to me a sinner,” was the prayer, but what was the answer? Listen to this—“This man went down to his house justified rather than the other”!

In a few sentences let me sketch this man’s progress. He came to God only as a sinner, nakedly as a sinner. Observe, he did not say, “God be merciful to me a penitent sinner.” He was a penitent sinner but he did not plead his penitence. And if you are ever so penitent and convicted of sin, do not mention it as an argument lest you be accused of self-righteousness. Come as you are, as a sinner and as nothing else! Exhibit your wounds. Bring your spiritual poverty before God and not your supposed wealth. If you have a single penny of your own, get rid of it. Perfect poverty, alone, will discharge you from your bankruptcy. If you have a moldy crust in the cupboard of self-righteousness, no bread from Heaven will be yours. You must be nothing and nobody if God is to be your All in All! This man does not cry, “God be merciful to me the penitent,” but, “be merciful to me the sinner.” He does not even say, “God be merciful to me the reformed sinner.” I have no doubt he did reform and give up his evil ways, but he does not plead that reformation.

Reformation will not take away your sinnership, therefore do not speak as if it could do so. What you are to be will make no atonement for what you have been! Come, therefore, simply as a sinner, not as a changed and improved sinner. Do not come because you are washed, but to be washed! The publican does not say, “God be merciful to me a praying sinner.” He was praying, but he does not mention it as a plea, for he thought very little of his own prayers. Do not plead your prayers—you might as well plead your sins! God knows that your prayers have sin in them. Why, Man, your very tears of repentance need washing! When your supplications are most sincere, what are they but the wailings of a condemned creature who cannot give a single reason why he should not be executed? Feel and acknowledge that you deserve condemnation—and come to God as a sinner. Off with your paltry finery, I mean your “filthy rags!” Do not trick yourself out in the weeds of your own repentance, much less in the fig leaves of your own resolutions—but come to God in Christ Jesus in all the nakedness of your sin—and everlasting mercy will cover both you and your sins.

Next, notice that this man did nothing but appeal to mercy. He said, “God be merciful to me.” He did not attempt to excuse himself and say, “Lord, I could not help it. Lord, I was not worse than other publicans. Lord, I was a public servant and only did what every other tax collector did.” No, no! He is too honest to forge excuses. He is a sinner and he admits it. If the Lord should condemn him out of his own mouth and send him to Hell, he cannot help it—his sin is too evident to be denied. He lays his head on the block and humbly pleads, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Neither does this publican offer any promises of future amendment as a setoff. He does not say, “Lord, be merciful for the past, and I will be better in the future.” Nothing of the sort! “Be merciful to me the sinner” is his one and only request.

So would I have you cry, “O God, be merciful to me! Although I am even now condemned and deserved to be hope- lessly damned by Your justice, yet have mercy upon me, have mercy on me now.” That is the way to pray and if you pray in that way God will hear you. He does not offer to pay anything. He does not propose any form of self-paid ransom. He does not present to God his tears, his abstinence, his self-denial, his generosity to the Church, his liberality to the poor, or anything else—he simply begs the Lord to be propitiated and to be merciful to him because of the great Sacrifice. Oh, that all of you would at once pray in this fashion!

Now, I want to cheer your hearts by noticing that this man, through this prayer and through this confession of sin, experienced a remarkable degree of acceptance. He had come up to the Temple condemned—“he went down to his house justified.” A complete change, a sudden change, a happy change was worked upon him! Heavy heart and downcast eyes were exchanged for glad heart and hopeful outlook. He came trembling into that Temple—he left it rejoicing! I am sure his wife noticed the difference. What had come over him? The children began to observe it, also. Poor father used to sit alone and heave many a sigh, but all of a sudden he is so happy! He even sings Psalms of David out of the latter end of the book! The change was very marked. Before dinner he says, “Children, we must give God thanks before we eat this meal.” They gather round and wonder at dear father’s happy face as he blesses the God of Israel!

He says to his friends, “Brethren, I am comforted. God has had mercy upon me. I went to the Temple guilty, but I have returned justified. My sins are all forgiven me. God has accepted a Propitiation on my behalf!” What good would come of such a happy testimony! This was a very sudden change, was it not? It was worked in a moment. The process of spiritual quickening is not a matter of hours, but of a single second of time. The processes which lead up to it and spring out of it are long, but the actual reception of life must be instantaneous. Not in every case would you be able to put your finger upon that second of time, but the passage from death unto life must be instantaneous. There must be a moment in which the man is dead and another moment in which he is alive. I grant you, life would be very feeble at first—still, there must be a time in which it was not there at all! And again, there must have been an instant in which it begins. There can be no middle condition between dead and alive. Yet a man may not know when the change took place.

If you were going to the Cape you might cross the equator at dead of night and know nothing about it, but still you would cross it. Some poor landsmen have thought that they would see a blue line right across the waves. But it is not perceptible, although it is truly there—the equator is quite as real as if we could see a golden belt around the globe. Dear Friends, I want you to cross the line this morning! Oh, that you might go out of this house saying, “Glory, glory, hallelujah! God has had mercy upon me!” Though you feel this morning that you would not give two-pence for your life, yet if you come to God through Jesus Christ, you shall go away blessing God not only that you are alive, but that you shall live forever, happy in His love!

Once more, this man went away with a witness such as I pray we all may have. “He was justified.” “But,” you add, “how do I know he was justified?” Listen to these words. Our blessed Lord says, “I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” I tell you.” Jesus, our Lord, can tell! Into our ear He tells it. He tells it to God and the holy angels and He tells it to the man, himself! The man who has cried from his heart, “God be merciful to me a sinner” is a justified man! When he stood and confessed his sin and cast himself wholly upon the Divine Mercy, that man was unburdened so that he went down to his house justified! We are all going down to our houses. Oh, that we might go down justified! You are going home. I want you to go home to God, who is the true home of the soul. “He went down to his house justified,” and why should not you do the same?

Perhaps, my Hearer, you have never been to the Tabernacle before. Possibly, my Friend, you are one of those gen- tlemen who spend Sunday mornings in their shirtsleeves at home reading the weekly paper. You have come here this morning quite by accident. Blessed be God! I hope you will go home “justified!” The Lord grant it! Perhaps you always come here and have occupied a seat ever since the Tabernacle was built—and yet you have never found mercy. Oh, that you might find mercy this morning! Let us seek this blessing. Come with me to Jesus. I will lead the way! I pray you say with me this morning—“God be merciful to me the sinner.” Rest on the great Propitiation—trust in Jesus Christ’s atoning blood! Cast yourself upon the Savior’s love and you shall go down to your house justified!

Is it a poor cottage? Is it less than that—a back room up three flights of stairs? Are you very, very poor and have you been out of work for a long time? Never mind. God knows all. Seek His face. It will be a happy Sunday for you, if you, this day, begin a new life by faith in Jesus! You shall have joy, peace and happiness if you seek and find mercy from the great Father. I think I see you trudging home, having left your load behind you, but compassed about with songs of praise unto our God. So be it! Amen and Amen!

 

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The following short quote comes from the Memoir of the Rev. J. J. Janeway, a biography compiled by Janeway’s son, Thomas L. Janeway. Jacob Jones Janeway was a noted Presbyterian pastor, situated in Philadelphia in the first half of the nineteenth-century, serving first as associate pastor under Ashbel Green. A close friend of Dr. Samuel Miller, Rev. Janeway was also a key supporter of Princeton Seminary in its early years.
Much of this biography is drawn from diaries kept by Rev. Janeway, and in this particular quote, we find him reflecting on the close of the year and looking forward to the new. His reflections are made the more poignant in that during that year past, he and his wife had suffered the death of a child. By God’s grace and mercy, most of us have probably not lost loved ones in the past year, but the sum of the quote is otherwise an admirable reflection, worthy of review.
So often we conclude a post with a “Words to Live By” comment. Lest we take away from the impact of his words, his reflection is so labeled:—  

J.J. JanewayWords to Live By:
SABBATH, January 6, 1811. ” It has pleased the Lord to prolong my life. How many thousands have died during the last year! but my life has been spared. How many thousands have languished in sickness! but I have enjoyed health. How many millions have lived the year out under thick Heathenish darkness! but I have enjoyed the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. How many who, although they hear the gospel calls and invitations, yet have been living in a state of sin and condemnation! But I have. I trust, been enabled, by free and sovereign grace, to spend the year in a state of peace and friendship with God, and in hope of a blissful immortality. Oh, to grace, how great a debtor! I mourn over the sins of the last year, and beseech grace to spend this more than any heretofore to the glory of God. This year finds us one less in family. It has pleased Almighty God to remove our dear babe from us. We bow to the stroke of Divine Providence.”

[Excerpted from Memoir of the Rev. J. J. Janeway (1861), pp. 177-178.]

Afterthought: The above quote, excepting perhaps the last few sentences, might be a good one to write out on a card and place in your Bible, for frequent reflection through the year.

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