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The Guardian. .
VOL. XVI.-JANUARY, 1865.-No. 1.
We greet our readers with the first number of volume SIXTEEN of the Guardian. Hoping that this number may meet them all in health and joy, we heartily wish them all a Happy New Year.
As we start upon a new year of time and a new volume of our Magazine, we hope our readers will allow us a few words with them. We wish to bespeak their interest in increasing the subscription list of the Guardian. As editor, we have no pecuniary interest in the work. The risks and profits all fall to the publishers. We can, therefore, without immodesty, ask what we have asked.
Since the Magazine is in the hands of the present publishers, its list of subscribers has considerably increased; and were it not for the extraordinary rise in the cost of paper and printing, it would now sustain itself comfortably. But, in addition to this disadvantage, the Guardian has sustained very serious loss by having been entirely burnt out at Chambersburg. It has, however, risen from its ashes, and proposes to go forward in faith, as it has always done. But an earnest effort on the part of its friends to increase its list of subscribers would be especially acceptable at this time.
Many judicious men have said, that the Guardian could not well be spared. We could furnish abundant proof, from public and private sources, that it has been an agency of much good. It has been blest to the bringing of persons into the Church; and it has been instrumental in bringing young men into the College and the Ministry. This we know. We have the evidence of it in letters written to us. How much else it has accomplished in families, and among the young, eternity may reveal.
We mention these things only to show, that the Guardian has not lived fifteen years in vain. IT WANTS TO LIVE LONGER! It also wishes to get into the hands of more young men and ladies, in the Church and out of it. Will the reader help it along?
Experience proves that it is not difficult to get up a list of subscribers in a neighborhood, village, and congregation. It is only necessary that some one attend to it. This cannot be done by either editor or publishers. They are bound to their posts of labor in the Church. We must depend upon the kind and disinterested co-operation of all who believe that the Guardian is fitted to do a good work among the young.
In making this earnest request, we do not forget that the Guardian was commenced in faith, and that a kind Providence has never suffered it to want friends. We once more commend it to the same Heavenly Father's care, as we start to travel into another year.
EDITORIAL NEW YEAR THOUGHTS.
“ Time passes away !” So we are wont to say. But some one has
suggested that it would be more correct to say, "We ourselves are passing away.” Time has the same steady, solemn flow which it had before the flood. Like a stream it flows on, but ever passes away. We may look upon it at any point, and it is the same stream. Only that which iť bears upon its bosom passes down its current never to return.
Well," time passes," or "we pass"—whichever you prefer. Something certainly is passing. Of this we are solemnly reminded by the new date, 1865, which it is necessary to place at the head of this first Number of the new Volume. When we issued the first number of the GUARDIAN, we wrote 1850. Like a dream when one waketh, so the time seems that since then has passed away. Fifteen
years is no small part of a human life. It moves forward a babe into the midst of blooming youth. It transfers a child into the period of full manhood or womanhood. It transfers the young into middle life. It makes those whom it finds in middle life at least slightly feel the creeping on of old age, and those who are regarded as the aged it lays quietly
Fifteen years effect great and marked changes around us in the general flow and history of outward local affairs. It removes many landmarks that have been long familiar-quietly reconciles us to the absence of the old, and accustoms us to the presence of the new. In the cities or villages where we live, old buildings have disappeared and new ones have taken their place; and homes have been located where fifteen years ago there were commons or fields. In the country strips of wood long familiar have disappeared. In the orchard many of the old trees are dead and gone. Among the animals and fowls of the homestead the former pets and favorites have disappeared. Roads have been turned into new tracks; fences and lanes have been changed ; and paths have been worn where there were none before. These and many more such-like changes have taken place. It may not be agreeable to the reader's taste to hear of them; but
in the grave.
it is one of our cherished fancies—especially on New-Year's night—to sit before the fire with our feet on the fender, our eyes closed to the present, busy in reproducing the world around us, or as it was then and there around us fifteen years ago.
We refer to these marked changes around us because they serve as prophecies of equally great and far more solemn changes in us. Who shall describe these to us ? How can we be made clearly and fully conscious of them? Every heart, every home, every family has had in itself a history of changes which are, and must remain unwritten. They furnish the discipline of the spirit, and if rightly used leave us purer and happier than before. A serious review of them, on the part of each one for himself, must bring with it many practical and profitable lessons.
In so far as such changes are connected directly with the Church and its interests, they are only the more worthy of devout and solemn review. New congregations have been formed, pastors also have been formed and changed there have been baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials! What a history would a careful review of fifteen years make in any congregation or pastorate!
What a host of baptized infants has fifteen years placed into the ranks of catechumens, and brought around the altar of their first communion. How many of this class—and how many in advance of them as to yearshave taken up the solemn and irrevocable vows and obligations of members of the Church of Jesus Christ. When we take into consideration the long course of catechetical instructions, the labors, anxieties and caresthe varied experiences of penitence and pardon, of hopes and fears—which precede and are bound up with such solemn admission into the Church, it cannot fail to furnish us with matter for profitable and solemn meditation. So, too, what reflections crowd in upon us when we begin to think of the results of such solemn professions, and attempt to follow the after-life and history of those who are the subjects of them.
Where are they all ? What has been their manner of life? and what is their present state ? These questions, of course, it is beyond our power definitely to answer. Some, in the providence of God and in consequence of the migrations which are constantly going on, have had their lot cast in places distant from the altar where they were confirmed. Of many of these the pastor continues to have knowledge, and by various means his communion with them has been kept up. They are active and consistent members of congregations into the bosoms of which they have been transferred. We still hear from them in their former home-congregations. They have still those amongst us who are bound to them in ties of kindred and Christian love, and our hearts are still refreshed by the knowledge of their continued and growing piety. There are stillt hose worshipping amongst us, whose pious and friendly remembrance of them mingles with our solemn worship, and silent mention is made of them in the public and private prayers of many. Though separated in body, we still hold them near in the sacred fellowship of faith; and as for our own, we long and pray for their final and full consummation and bliss, with us at the coming, and in the Kingdom of our common Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Even now, do we say with all the solemnity and earnestness of a prayer: The Lord guide them by His counsel, and afterward receive them into glory! Many are still with us. They go in and out, and find pasture.
walls that witnessed to their vows still hear their praises. At the same altar at which they knelt in confirmation, they continue torenew their vows in the solemn sacrament of the Lord's body and blood. To such we may say: Be grateful for the mercies of the Lord, by which you have been enabled to be faithful to your vows. Continue to feed upon the fatness of the Lord's house, and to drink of the river of his pleasures. Regard an approved standing, and full communion with the Church of the living God as the highest position to be attained this side of heaven, and as the only means by which you may live in His fear and favor, die in His peace, rest in hope, and attain at last to the resurrection of the just, and the joys of His heavenly kingdom.
When we call to mind that even in the small congregation of twelve which our Saviour called around Himself, one denied, and another betrayed Him in the hour of His trial, we need not wonder if it should appear that, of those confirmed, some had fallen back into the world! The best wheat is not without chaff. The best tilled field has some tares. Among the purest coin some counterfeits appear. Our Saviour said: “It must needs be that offences come ;” and what the apostle says of doctrinal fallings away, is as true in regard to errors of life: “For there must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Let us pity the weak, and lift up our hearts in prayer for any who are fallen. How beautiful are the words of the holy Apostle :
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
It is pleasant and encouraging to call to mind that of those thus confirmed some have prepared, and others are preparing for the holy ministry. Some who were catechumens fifteen years ago are already serving prominent charges in the Church. Others are still holding under advisement the question of their call to the holy office.
But best and safest of all is the state and situation of those, who have finished their course and have entered into the joys of their Lord.
Thrice happy souls who've gone before,
But bright in endless glory shine. How appropriately and touchingly do we revive the sacred memory of them in connection with every holy communion of the Lord's body and blood. Regarding them only as in a higher chamber in the same glorious temple and Father's house-our saintly communion with them unbroken, according to the hymn :
The saints on earth, and all the dead,
But one communion make,
And of His grace partake. We rejoice before God in this blessed communion; and before we approach the altar, where they once joined with us, we devoutly say: thanks unto Thee for Thy great grace and many gifts bestowed on those
“We give who have thus gone before us in the way of salvation, and by whom we are now compassed about, in our Christian course, as a cloud of witnesses looking down upon us from the heavenly world. Enable us to follow their faith, that we may enter at death into their joy; and so abide with them in rest and peace, till both they and we shall reach our common consummation of redemption and bliss in the glorious resurrection of the last day.”
What a glorious company of infant members has the Church received by the holy sacrament of Baptism in fifteen years! What a blessed harvest may be confidently awaited from such a glorious planting into Christ Jesus and the rich and fruitful soil of his Church! What grace
is bestowed in such a number of covenant transactions! What blessings are connected with them in the nurture vowed and secured for the subjects of this covenant in the bosom of Christian families and of the Church !
Some will perhaps receive this grace of God " in vain.” Parents may be unfaithful, and they themselves may resist and ignore the grace
which constrains them, and thus count themselves unworthy of that eternal life, the warrant, offer, and means of which are all secured to them by the holy covenant. Yet, what a gracious advantage does the blessing of baptism afford! Fruit may fall off unripe from the best tree; yet we know that fruit nowhere does ripen except in union with the tree. There may be abortive growths in the best soil; and yet we know that growth is only possible where there has been a planting in the soil. So we know that planting into Christ Jesus and His Church is the only way by which souls are ripened for heaven, even though some so planted in the gracious soil, may through their own self-will
, or the neglect of those to whom their tender years were committed, fail in their growth, and come short of the fruit of life eternal.
The holy Scriptures teach, and every watchful pastor knows, that there are in persons that have received the holy sacrament of baptism stronger and more wakeful religious instincts, a better redeemability, a nature or basis more susceptible to the call and approach of grace, than is found in the unbaptized. There is in them that to which St. John refers, when he says, “His seed remaineth in them”—the seed which will respond to the presence of the conditions of grace, as naturally and surely as the latent seed, unseen and silent in the bosom of the soil, will answer to the warm spring-sun beaming on it, and the genial south-wind playing over it.
The existence of such a disposition and susceptibility to grace in the heart of the baptized need not seem to us a strange and unaccountable thing, when we remember, what we are plainly taught, that the promise connected with baptism insures the communication of the Holy Ghost to those who receive the sacrament of baptism. It is distinctly said to those who are baptized, “ Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”-and it is added that this promise is to us and to our children! (Acts ii. 38, 39.) If the Holy Ghost be thus given to those in covenant, and“ dwells with them and shall be in them,” in a way in which the world can neither receive nor know Him; (John 14, 16, 7,) we have abundant ground on which to explain the fact of a greater degree of redeemableness being found in the baptized than in the unbaptized.
We have frequently found in the case of the unbaptized, even when they have been exercised with strong inclinations toward religion, a strange,
al. most fatal inability to accept the vocation of grace-a feebleness to lay hold