Taken from, “Invisibles, Realities; Demonstrated in the Holy Life and Triupmphant Death of Mr. John Janeway.”
Written by James Janeway, 1673.
…and to come yet a little closer to you, for I love your soul so well, that I cannot bear the thoughts of the loss of it. Know this, that there is such a thing as the new birth: and except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven: God’s favor is not to be recovered without it. This new birth hath its foundation laid in a sense of sin, and a godly sorrow for it” and a heart set against it: without this there can be no salvation.
Look well about you, and see into yourself, and thou wilt see that thou art at hell’s mouth without this first step, and nothing but free grace and pure mercy is between you and the state of the devils. The Lord deliver us from a secure, careless heart! Here you see a natural man’s condition. How dare you then lie down in security? Oh, look about for your soul’s sake.
What shall I say, what shall I do to awaken your poor soul? I say again, without repentance there is no remission; and repentance itself may lose its labor if it be not in the right manner. Even tears, and groans, and prayers, will not do without Christ. Most, when they are convinced of sin, and are under fears of hell, run to duty and reform something, and thus the wound is healed, and by this thousands fall short of heaven. For if we be not brought off from ourselves and our righteousness, as well as our sins, we are never like to be saved. We must see an absolute need of a Christ, and give ourselves up to him, and count all but dung and loss in comparison of Christ’s righteousness. Look therefore, for mercy only in Christ; for his sake rely upon God’s mercy. The terms of the Gospel are, repent, and believe. Gracious terms! Mercy for fetching, nay, mercy for desiring, nay, for nothing but receiving.
Do, you desire mercy and grace? I know thou do: even this is the gift of God to desire: hunger after Christ, let, desires put you upon endeavor, the work itself is sweet yea, repentance and mourning itself hath more sweetness in it than all the world’s comforts. Upon repentance and believing comes justification, after this sanctification, by the Spirit dwelling in us. By this we come to be the children of God, to be made partakers of the Divine nature to lead new lives, to have a suitableness with God. It is unworthy of a Christian to have such a narrow spirit as not to act for Christ with all one’s heart, and soul, and strength, and might. Be not ashamed of Christ, be not afraid of the frowns and jeers of the wicked.
Be sure to keep a conscience void of offence, and yield by no means to any known sin; be much in prayer, and in secret prayer, and in reading the Scriptures. Therein are laid up the glorious mysteries which are hid from many eyes. My greatest desire is, that God would work, his own great work in you. I desire to see you not as formerly, but that the Lord would make me an instrument of your soul’s good, for which I greatly long.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: James Janeway (1636–1674) was a Puritan minister and author who, after John Bunyan, had the widest and longest popularity as the author of works read by English-speaking children. In this book, he collected personal accounts of the conversions of a number of children under his pastoral care, and published it. In the introduction, Janeway asks, “Are the souls of your children of no value? They are not too little to die.. not too little to go to hell.. not too little to serve their great Master, not too little to go to heaven.”
It became an effective evangelistic tool, and was the most widely read book in nurseries in England next to the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. The New England preacher Cotton Mather regarded that book so highly that he wrote his own version of it and called it A Token for the Children of New England.
Janeway was born at Lilley, in Hertfordshire, the son of William Janeway, a minister of Kershall, at the end of 1636. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating with a B.A. and spent time as a private tutor in a home, like many of the Puritans. He is listed as one of the “ejected” or “silenced” ministers by the Act of Uniformity 1662. The first evidence that he functioned as a non-conformist preacher is from the year 1665 at the time of the Great Plague of London. He was then witness to the second great national calamity in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
In 1672 his congregation built a large meeting house for him near London at Rotherhithe, where it is said that he had a very numerous auditory, and a great reformation was wrought amongst many. But Janeway’s popularity caused the Church of England to threaten to have him shot. This was actually attempted on at least two occasions, on one of which a bullet pierced his hat but missed his body. Soldiers destroyed the building in which he preached, but his congregation simply built another, larger one big enough for all those who came to hear him preach. Janeway was afflicted with melancholy, contracted tuberculosis, and died in his 38th year. All of his five brothers died of tuberculosis before the age of 40. He was buried in St Mary Aldermanbury next to his father.
Janeway also wrote “Upon Earth: Jesus, The Best Friend in the Worst Times”. He was among the signers of the 1673 Puritan Preface to the Scottish Metrical Psalms and contributed one of the “Cripplegate Sermons: Duties of Masters and Servants”.
Janeway’s influence on Puritan thought lasted long after his death. Charles Haddon Spurgeon referred to Janeway’s works in his sermons on many occasions in the late 1800s.