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upon its head the hand of a pious elder, sponsor, pastor, or aged saint, accompanied with a "God bless you, my child," and some simple word of pious admonition. Who can fail to see in this the natural and appropriate spirit of childlike piety? Who will say such a blessing does not truly bless, when it is imparted devoutly, by prayer and by faith.
Do not some of us recollect such acts of piety and love bestowed upon us in our childhood-and has not the remembrance of such acts often reminded us anew, and with increased solemnity, of our early consecration to God? The very thought that hands, which are now turned into ashes in the grave, and pious spirits which are now before the throne, have once blest us, is full of inspiration, and holy savor to our hearts.
The laying of the hand upon the sick, as Christ and his apostles did -though it does not pretend to impart any miraculous healing power— is an act of piety, of love, and of sympathy, which is as truly prompted by warm christian feeling as it is sanctioned by precedent of the holy scriptures.
Even as a merely natural act it is not without its consolations, its encouragement, and its alleviating and reviving influence upon the spirits of the sick. The pressure of a hand, when we are well, is not without its life to the soul, indicating to us that another cares that we exist; how much more quickening to the drooping spirits of the sick is the pressure of the hand of sympathizing love upon an aching head and fevered brow! This we have all felt. It is as if we had a hold upon the strength of the living, and as if one who has power himself to do so, had said to us in the friendly touch, "Rise and walk-revive and live!"
But we have no right to regard such an act as merely natural. It belongs to the sphere of faith and grace. It is a pious act, like prayer, if it be piously done, and in the name of Jesus. We may, therefore, believe that the natural act is, through faith and prayer, sanctified by supernatural power, and rendered a true blessing by the mighty efficacy of grace.
The laying on of hands in connection with baptism, and after baptism, as the apostles did to the believers in Samaria, has in all ages been practiced by the church. Those who were baptized in their infancy, had that act and grace confirmed to them when they themselves assumed their baptismal vows. It seems to be this rite that the apostle refers to in Hebrews 6: 2. The laying on of hands there comes, in order, after repentance, faith and baptism. It is the act of full initiation into the church.
The laying on of hands, in the ordination of deacons, elders, and ministers, has also always been observed by the church. It is regarded by all christians as the only way in which persons can be lawfully and properly invested with the authority and grace of office in the church.
It would shock the feelings of all, and be regarded as high-handed presumption, should any one attempt to discharge the duties, and exercise the functions of these offices, without having first received the "laying on of hands."
II. What is the substance of this act, and what does it bestow? We must not regard it as an empty form, as an unmeaning, powerless, graceless act. This would be to charge God with folly. With God
form and power are always one. We must not neglect it, set it aside, and treat it as though it did not exist. This many persons practically do. It exists in the practice of the church as a divine fact, and is presented to us as one of the principles and doctrines of Christ. It is an ordinance that exists for us: it becomes us to inquire what it is to us, and what we are to seek in it, and expect from it.
1. It is a divine act by which those who receive it are laid hold of by God, and are claimed for Him.
This is already signified to us by the act itself. The person from whom we receive the laying on of hands is one who acts for God. He is God's representative-through his hands God reaches forth to us, and lays hold on us. Hence always the higher ordains or blesses the lower.
To lay hands on any thing, in the scripture sense of that expression, means to take it, to claim it, to secure it. Obad. 13.
In reference to Paul and Barnabas the Holy Ghost said: Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work, whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." Acts 13: 2, 3. By this act they separated them-seized them for God-claimed them for his special service.
So the ram, on which Aaron and the Levites laid their hands, was now, by that act, claimed as the sin-offering. So elders, deacons, and ministers are by the laying on of hands claimed of God as his special servants. So pious, dying parents claim their children for the service of that God whom they have saved, and to whom they now solemnly consecrated them.
who are His by vows,
The act now requires on their part to yield to Him, to own the claim, and not to tear themselves out of God's hands. The solemn act asks from us a consecration to God of that which he claims as his own.
So in confirmation, God lays his hands on the and claims them for Himself.
He has a right to claim our services as private christians—he has a right to lay His hands upon us and set us apart as a royal priesthood.
He has a right to claim us as officers in His church-to demand of us all the labor, care, sacrifice, and service, which these offices involve. When He lays hold of us, and binds us in the spirit to His work, we have no right to say, nay, "Send by whom thou wilt send." He has a right to lay this necessity upon us. We must find our happiness in yielding to his claims.
2. The laying on of hands also imparts power and grace to act in God's name.
This also the act itself signifies and represents to us. It means to shed forth, to bestow, to communicate. It is the act of blessing-of giving, or transferring power, authority, and grace.
Thus this signification of the act only carries out, and completes the other. For those whom the Lord claims he also blesses. The same hand which claims us for God also imparts to us his blessing, and bestows on us his grace. The laying on of hands is therefore a double act: In it God takes us to Himself, and gives Himself to us. Jesus took little children to His arms, and then blessed them.
God commanded Moses to lay his hands on Joshua, and to give him a charge. Num. 27: 18-23. That this was a bestowment, not only
of office as his successor, but also of power and grace to fulfil that office, is evident. It is afterward said: "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses has laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel harkened unto him." Deut. 34: 9.
We find that Jesus always communicated healing power to those sick upon whom he laid his hands. Mark 6: 5; Luke 4: 40–13: 13. We find also that the people expected, and believed, that healing power was communicated in this way. Hence the ruler of the synagogue asked directly that this might be done. He does not say come and heal her, but "Come and lay thy hands upon her, that she may be healed." Mark 5: 23. This was known to him as the divine order and way of bestowing renovating power! The apostles betowed healing power upon the sick in the same way. Acts 28: 8.
We find also that the gift of office-the right, the power, the grace to act for God, was bestowed in the same way. Paul says to Timothy: "Neglect not the gift which is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery." 1 Tim. 4: 14; 2 Tim. 1: 6, 7.
This gift or grace was given with the laying on of hands. It was the grace needed in the office to which the same act consecrated him. That grace was now in him—it had not been in him before-and he is exhorted not to neglect it.
It seems that Paul himself had also laid his hands on Timothy-or perhaps he was only assisted in it by presbyters. He says to him: "I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." Here again he speaks of a gift or grace which was thus imparted. He also immediately adds: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1: 6, 7.
The laying on of hands also bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost. In regard to the converts at Samaria it is said: "Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of apostle's hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money." Acts 8: 17, 18.
In reference to the newly baptized at Ephesus it is said: "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them." Acts 19: 6. In both these cases they were private christians, and not such as were ordained to office. We may, therefore, claim the bestowment of the Holy Ghost in the confirmation of private christians.
Why may we not expect the same effects to flow from the same act now? We are under the same dispensation. We have still the doctrine of the laying on of hands. God and grace have not changed!
Do we not find also that this is the very gift promised to all believers, namely, the gift of the Holy Ghost. He is given us to abide with as forever. He is to dwell in the saints as in his own temple. Are not christians to live, and to walk in the spirit? Is not He to be the life of all our services-our light, our guide, our sanctifier, and our comforter?
If he strives with us, reproves us, woos us, and convinces us of siu, of righteousness and of a judgment to come, before we are christians, why should not He be given us, in a peculiar manner, when we at length yield to His power and grace? If He is so given why may not this
great and glorious gift be bestowed by the laying on of hands-and bestowed in just such measure as we need. Yea, He is so given, as we are divinely assured, blessed are they who have faith to receive Him!
Let it be remembered that no human being professes, from himself, to bestow such a grace. Human hands are only the means and the medium, the power is of God. It can only be done in His name, and in dependence upon Him.
It is remarkable that when the apostles laid their hands on any the act was always preceded by prayer. When our Saviour did it, it was not so preceded. The reason is plain, and at once evident. Our Saviour had the power in himself the apostles had it by gift from God, for which they found it necessary to ask. Acts 3: 12.
So now the gift is through the hands of men, but not from them or by them. Yet in answer to prayer it is bestowed. We must look away from the feeble instrument, to Him who has ordained that through "the laying on of their hands all needed authority, power and grace should be freely given."
As it requires prayer on the part of those who give it, so also does it require preparedness on the part of those who receive it. Even when Jesus himself gave, it had to be received by faith. Even He could only do mighty works to those who believed.
When the apostles gave the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who believed at Samaria, there was one who was in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity desired it, and would have purchased it with money. He had no inward preparation for it-no faith, no prayerful spirit. To him they said: "T ast no part nor lot in this matter; for thine heart is not right in the sight of God." He received it not! Let no one, therefore, blame the ordinances if he fails to receive the gift.
Many of you, young readers of The Guardian, as well as he who writes, have received the laying on of hands. O how searching to us is the question: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" Have we the power and the grace which fits us for our high and holy calling, as private members, or as officers in the church of Jesus Christ! If not, why? "Thine heart is not right in the sight of God." At our doors alone lies the fault.
O may there be devout, believing hearts to receive the grace! Let us earnestly pray to Him who has all the power, that in the blessing we may be now and for ever blest.
FAMILY LIKENESSES.-Southey, in a letter to Sir Egerton Brydges, says: "Did you ever observe how remarkably old age brings out family likenesses, which, having been kept, as it were, in abeyance, while the passions and business of the world engrossed the parties, come forth again in acts (as in infancy) the features settling into their primary characters before dissolution? I have seen some affecting instances of this; a brother and a sister, than whom no two persons in middle life could have been more unlike in countenance or in character, becoming like as twins at last. I now see my father's lineaments in the lookingglass, where they never used to appear.
BY F. W. SHELTON.
It cost me, indulgent reader, some considerable scruple and reflection before I could make up my mind to enter upon the following record, the like of which, I verily believe, is not to be found in those beautiful works, the "Vicar of Wakefield," or the "Poor Vicar." But I have concluded that by so doing, a good purpose might be subserved. He who means well may hope for pardon if he errs.
In the one hundred and twenty-fifth year of the foundation of the parish, and in the thirty-fifth of the administration of the present Rector, or thereabout, a discord began in the organ-loft of a more grating character than that which on a former occasion had concerned the puffed-out cheeks of the probulgent Tubingen. The singing powers of this gentleman had not diminished with his age, and he still gloried in a guttural bass, which told on the seats whereupon the congregation sat. A great deal of new talent had been added to the choir. Moreover the little organ before which the youthful Miss Valeary used to bounce up and down as she pressed the pedals and the keys, had been replaced by one with gilded pipes more lofty and with stops more numerous. This was played upon by an organist whose style was modern and elaborate, and his eccentricities called for occasional restriction and rebuke. His voluntaries affloresced into all the bloom and luxury of his charming genius, which literally disported in the waves of sound; and as it gave up its musical ghost, just when the opening sentences were about to be read, divers of the virtuosi would nod and smile, while one would perhaps whisper to another, with a recognizing look, "La Dame Blanche." The congregation of St. Bardolph's now prided themselves on their choir, and it was a common remark as they passed out, "What excellent music we had to-day!" But, to tell you the plain truth, it was contemptibly poor music-unfit for the occasion-devoid of religious expression-fit only for the pomp of a village festivity-and inflated with vanity. When you heard the brass rings rattle over the iron rod to which the red curtain was attached, shutting up the choristers in the seclusion of their perched-up loft, then you might know that some grand exploits of vocalism were to come off. The sexton, who had been despatched in good season to the "sacristy," to obtain from the Rector the number of the psalm and hymn, having returned with a small slip of paper on which they were indicated in pencil, a great whispering and consultation having taken place which resulted in the selection of tunes. Mr. Tubingen placed the music book on the rack, and the bellows of the little-big organ were put in play. Never was a more brilliant sparkle and scintillation elicited from the windy bellows of a blacksmith's forge. The head and shoulders of the organist swayed up and down like those of a Chinese eater of the narcotic drug, in the accompaniment of an improvisation upon the keys, which made the whole congregation involuntarily twist their necks and look aloft, and at last with a