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VOL. XVII.-JANUARY, 1866.-No. 1.

A FREE EDITORIAL TALK.

With this first number of our seventeenth volume, we greet our readers, and wish them a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Though all know it, yet we feel like telling them anew, that they may hear it for the hundredth time, that the war is over, and sweet blessed peace again reigns throughout the borders of the land. Let the people praise God, yea let all the people praise Him! What a change since January 1865, when our noble army, over a million strong, was gathering around the rebellion for the last victorious stroke. The brave myriads have done their work, and are now enjoying the sweets of home, receivingas they deserve-the gratitude and honor of a nation delivered from disintegration and ruin. May they long live to enjoy the laurels they have so nobly won, and prove as useful in peace as they have been brave in war.

There is no danger that, in the minds of men, the return of peace might mean the introduction of a reign of inactivity. Everybody and every thing seems moving. There is intense stir in every department of life. Never before, perhaps, has the country witnessed the same unwearied activity.' The only danger is that, in the midst of this bustle and business, men may suffer themselves to be too deeply immersed in the mere material interests of life. The Bible warns us against making haste to be rich. It is to be hoped that this wisdom may not be held in too low estimation, at a time when the tendency is so all-absorbing in that direction.

There is another feature of the times calculated to awaken concern. There never has been a time when money was so freely spent as it is now. To be generous is certainly a noble trait; but we fear that the lavish expenditures of the day are rather taking the form of prodigality. We fear the young especially are handling money too freely. The heap must be very large, if it can endure such rate of dispersion, till the young of this generation become the old men and women of the land. At the risk of being put down as old-fashioned, the GUARDIAN fears not to recommend a little more economy.

Money is plenty, and that is taken by many as a sure argument in favor

VOL. XVII.-1

6

A Free Editorial Talk.

[JANUARY,

of spending it freely. Our thinking, as well as our experience, has taught us, that just the reverse is the wise and the true view to be taken. Financial affairs are a little like travelling on a turnpike road; when you go up a hill, you will soon find yourself invited to go down again. It is said of the German wit, Idelspiegel, that he always laughed when he went up hill, because he knew he would soon be allowed to go down; and wept when he went down, because he knew that he would soon have to go up again. We venture to say, that underneath his folly there lies a deep wisdom. The time to be careful, is, when money flows so freely, because it will surely get scarce again. We could easily give reasons for our old-fashioned views, but we wish rather to suggest than to argue.

This is also a time when there are many ways to error, and consequently also to ruin. Let our young people act thoughtfully and sensibly. There is only one period of youth allowed to each of us. If we fail in it, we make a fatal failure! No one need err in this respect. There are certain principles which have stood the proof of ages, and there is a course of life which has conducted thousands to usefulness, happiness and honor. Let men act upon these venerable and fixed principles, and their lives will prove a success. Piety, honesty, earnestness, industry-these are oldfashioned, well-tried elements of success in life. We will go security for every young person, who will put them to a full and fair trial.

But we are growing rather didactic. Our only apology is, that, as the GUARDIAN grows older, he feels a deeper interest in the young, and is conscious of an increasing desire to see the young fulfil the hopes of their parents, the hopes of the Church, as well as the hopes of their own better hours in regard to the great and solemn mission of life.

With an 66 eye single" to this end has the GUARDIAN labored from its infancy up to this time; nor is it now weary of the glorious work. To the same interest does it now sacredly devote its seventeenth year, and asks only to be kindly received and earnestly heard.

First to God, and then to all the friends of our humble Magazine, do we return our hearty thanks for the favor vouchsafed our editorial labors. With the history and the labors associated with the GUARDIAN, as well as with the many who have befriended and encouraged it, are associated some of the pleasantest memories of our life; and now still, in its monthly preparation, we find more of pleasure than of toil. For what else of earthly good should we be thankful if not for a field of useful labor, and a cheerful and hopeful heart to change labor into happiness. All these things are from the good Father above!

Nor ought we, in view of all this, to be blamed for having a desire that the friends of the GUARDIAN might be multiplied many fold. Though the number who receive it has never been larger than now, we earnestly ask for thousands more; and this we do without being conscious of the least selfishness or unholy ambition. We only ask for our contributors and ourselves a larger audience, and for our Publishers reasonable remuneration at this time of unparalleled prices in the line of paper and printing.

Give us a little help, kind friends, in your several localities; and when the aggregate returns come it will reveal the pleasant fact, that our GUARDIAN is invited to visit a thousand more families than he has ever had the privilege of entering before. Our thanks in advance, and—A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL.

From the German.

BY ELIA.

The Christian church-year in general, and the Christmas festival in particular, have their history-a history of their origin, development, and spread, which opens up an interesting view from the present into the past. The History of the Christmas festival can be followed back into the middle of the Fourth century, but its first traces are concealed in a mysterious obscurity. The Church did not begin to seek and inquire about the birthday of its Lord and Head, until the witnesses and cotemporaries of this event, which at first was known to only a small circle, had long since left the stage. The first notice of the Christmas festival, in the Apostolic Constitutions (v. 13), is acknowledged to be an interpolation of a later age. Origen († 254), in his book, Contra Celsum (viii. 22), makes mention of neither Christmas nor the Ascension, among the Christian holy days.

It was on the 25th of December, 360, that Liberius, Bishop of Rome, consecrated Marcella, the sister of Ambrosius, the Bishop of Milan, as a nun; this occurred in the Church of St. Peter in Rome. On this occasion he said: "Vides, quantus populus ad sponsi tui natalem convenerit." (You see how great a concourse of people has assembled on the birth-day of thy Bridegroom.) These words, found in the work of Ambrose, de Virginitate, lib. III. c. 1, constitute the oldest, genuine, and probably documentary evidence of the celebration of the 25th of December as the natal festival of Jesus in Occidental Christendom.

The earliest reliable trace of the festival of Christmas in the Orient, is furnished by St. Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople († 407). He expressly says, in a sermon preached on December 25th, 386, "This festival has not been known among us ten years yet." But in the same sermon he estimates the Christmas festival so highly, that he adds: "It is the mother of all other sacred days, as all others pre-suppose the birth of Christ." It does indeed seem to us right strange, that the churches of the East and West agreed so quickly and firmly on the celebration of the 25th of December; for the decision of James of Edessa (circu 700) remains true to this very hour: "No man knows the day of Christ's birth," and already even earlier, Clement of Alexandria had denounced the search for Christ's birth-day as a fruitless endeavor. On the other hand, how difficult was the introduction of a common Easter festival among Christians! What quarrels arose in the Second century in reference to this day, whose determination, according to the Jewish Passover, (on 14th Nisan or Abib), must have been so much easier!

It is a universally acknowledged fact, that the ecclesiastical distinction

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