The Dying Experience of John Janeway as found in Thoughts on Religious Experience by J.A. Alexander (1809-1860)
JOHN JANEWAY, 1633-57, was a young man who had just entered the holy ministry, when he was called away, and exchanged earth for heaven. He was never permitted to preach more than two sermons, before his lungs were so affected that he was obliged to cease from his earthly labours. During his last days he was absorbed in the contemplation of Christ and heaven. His meditations, his discourses, his whole deportment, made it evident that he was ripening for glory. His faith had grown up to a full assurance, and he often feasted on the rich provisions of God's house, and enjoyed many foretastes of future blessedness. The Lord often called him up to the mount and let him see His glory. In the midst of earthly comforts he longed for death, and his thoughts of the day of judgment were refreshing to him. He would say, 'What if the day of judgment were come, even this hour? I would be glad with all my heart. I should behold such lightnings, and hear such thunderings as Israel did at the mount, and I am persuaded that my heart would leap for joy. The meditation of that day has even ravished my soul; and the thoughts of its certainty and nearness are more refreshing to my soul than all earthly comforts. Surely nothing can more revive my spirit, than to behold the blessed Jesus, who is the life and joy of my soul.'
When he began to sink rapidly under his complaint, his soul was so devoutly occupied in the contemplation of Christ and heaven, that he almost forgot his pains and sickness. His faith, his love, and his joy, exceedingly abounded. He would frequently exclaim, 'O that I could let you know what I feel! O that I could show you what I now see! O that I could express the thousandth part of that sweetness which I now find in Christ! You would then all think it worth while to make religion your chief business. O my dear friends, you little think what Christ is worth upon a death-bed. I would not now for a world, nay, for a million worlds, be without Christ and pardon. I would not for a world live any longer, and the very thought of a possibility of recovery makes me tremble. I do tell you, that I so long to be with Christ, that I could be content to be cut in pieces, and put to the most exquisite tortures, so I might but die and be with Christ. O! how sweet Jesus is. "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." Death, do thy worst. Death has lost its terrors. Through grace I can say, death is nothing to me. I can as easily die as shut my eyes. I long to die— I long to be with Christ.' He charged his friends most earnestly, not to pray for his life. 'O! the glory, the unspeakable glory which I behold—my heart is full—my heart is full. Christ smiles, and I am constrained to smile. Can you find it in your hearts to stop me now I am going to the complete and eternal enjoyment of Christ? Would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my blessed Saviour are open to receive me. The angels stand ready to carry my soul into His bosom. O! did you but see what I see, you would cry out with me, "Dear Lord, how long?" "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." "O! why are thy chariot wheels so long in coming?"'
A minister having spoken to him of the joys of heaven, he said: 'Sir, I feel something of it. My heart is as full as it can hold in this lower state. I can hold no more. O! that I could but let you know what I feel. Who am I, Lord, who am I, that Thou shouldst be mindful of me? Why me, Lord, why me? and pass by thousands to look on such a wretch as I? O! what shall I say unto thee, Thou Preserver of men? O! blessed, and for ever blessed, be free grace! Why is it, Lord, that Thou shouldst manifest Thyself unto me and not to others? "Even so, Father, because it seemed good in thy sight." Thou wilt have mercy, because Thou wilt have mercy. And if thou wilt look on such a poor worm, who can hinder? Who would not love thee, O blessed Father? O! how sweet and gracious hast Thou been to me! O! that He should have me in His thoughts before the foundation of the world!'
On one occasion, after his brother had been praying with him, his joys became unutterable; he broke out in such exclamations as these, 'O! He is come—He is come—how sweet, how glorious, is the blessed Jesus! He is altogether lovely. How shall I speak the thousandth part of His praise? O for words to set forth a little part of His excellency! Come, look on a dying man and wonder. Was there ever greater kindness? Were there ever more sensible manifestations of grace? O! why me, Lord, why me? Surely this is akin to heaven, and if I were never to enjoy more than this, it is more than a sufficient recompense for all that men and devils could inflict. If this be dying, it is sweet. The bed is soft. Christ's arms, and smiles, and love, surely would turn hell into heaven. O! that you did but see and feel what I do. Behold a dying man, more cheerful than you ever saw a man in health, in the midst of his sweetest worldly enjoyments. O! sirs, worldly pleasures are poor, pitiful, sorry things, when compared with this glory in my soul.' He often exhorted those around him to assist him in his praises. 'O!' said he, 'help me to praise God. Henceforth, through eternity, I have nothing else to do but to love and praise the Lord. I cannot tell what to pray for, which is not already given me. I want only one thing, and that is, a speedy lift to heaven. I expect no more here. I desire no more—I can bear no more. O! praise, praise, praise that boundless love which has wonderfully looked upon my soul, and has done more for me than for thousands of His children. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. O my friends, help me, help me, to admire and praise Him who hath done such astonishing wonders for my soul. He has pardoned all my sins and filled me with His goodness. He has given me grace and glory, and no good thing has He withheld from me. All ye mighty angels, help me to praise God. Let every thing that has being help me to praise Him. Praise is my work now, and will be my work for ever. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!'
A few hours before his death he had his mother and brothers and sisters called around his bed, when in a most solemn and affecting manner he addressed himself in turn to each, and took leave of them. To his mother he offered his thanks for her tender love, and expressed his desire that she might see Christ formed in the hearts of all her children, and meet them all with joy at the day of judgment. Then he took his brothers and sisters in order, and offered an appropriate petition for each. He then said, 'O! that none of us may be found among the unconverted in the day of judgment! O! that we may all appear with our honoured father and dear mother, before Christ with joy. O! that we may live to God here, and live with God hereafter. And now, my dear mother, brothers, and sisters, farewell!' His last words were, 'My work is done—I have fought a good fight,' etc. 'Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.' After which he immediately expired.