Ken Haskins: John Jay had Bible; so do you

John Jay was born in 1745. His childhood was challenging. As a young person, John struggled to overcome a speech impediment. He also did what he could to help a brother and a sister who were blinded by smallpox.

John was a quick study. At the tender age of 14, he enrolled in King’s College. To satisfy admission requirements, he had to translate from Greek into Latin the first 10 chapters of John’s gospel.

As a young adult, John Jay cared for his parents and continued his studies. He graduated from Columbia and was admitted to the bar in 1766. He served first as an attorney and later as a public official, a diplomat and a jurist.

John Jay was an honest and selfless public servant. With the Lord’s help, Jay accomplished much. He served as a member of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776. He was appointed the chief justice of the State of New York, but resigned in December of 1778 to become president of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1779. Along with Jefferson, Franklin, Livingston and Sherman, Jay helped to draft the U.S. Constitution. He aided Hamilton and Madison in the writing of the Federalist Papers. In 1779, Jay put forth a resolution in congress to appoint the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer. Jay signed the final peace treaty with Great Britain in 1783. From 1784 to 1789 Jay served as secretary of foreign affairs. He was elected governor of New York in 1795, even though he had not actively sought the office. Jay served as the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

John Jay was a Christian patriot and statesmen. He served as Vice President before serving as President of the American Bible Society in 1821. The “pure and undefiled religion” of John Jay moved him to give generously to aid widows and orphans. His Christian faith moved him to side with abolitionists in the struggle to end slavery. Jay said, “We have the highest reason to believe that the Almighty will not suffer slavery and the gospel to go hand in hand. It cannot, it will not be.” John Jay built his life upon the foundation of Christ and His Word. Jay believed Americans should prefer Christians as their leaders.

When his life was drawing to a close, Jay was asked if he had any final words for his children. John Jay’s response was simply: “They have the book!”

That “book” is the Bible. Countless great lives have been built upon it. You have the book — the Bible. Read it. Study it. Take it in, and make it a part of you. Like John Jay, you will be better for it.

Ken Haskins is pastor of First Christian Church in Carson City.


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