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ment void in itself through duress, and so to prevent such treaty becoming part of the public law of Europe. In any case, the transfer of populations against their will from one State to another is-pace Mr. Freeman-an act which should not be allowed to pass without a formal protest on behalf of this free country.
For myself, I have nothing to retract in the sentiments which I have already expressed in two articles of this Review. I see, indeed, now, more clearly than I did at the time, that after the Sédan disaster it was the duty of this country to have intervened in favour of a peace compatible with the safety and honour of France. I see that I had under-estimated the emasculating effect upon France of the Napoleonic rule, the indispensable need which she had of foreign support towards offering an adequate resistance. In her present moral prostration I see more dangers for Europe than in her material ruin. A more humbling spectacle to human nature than that of the return of the present Assembly, the elevation of an effete political trickster like M. Thiers to the head of affairs, the insults offered to Garibaldi
present, to absent Gambetta, by four hundred nominees of the priesthood, can hardly be conceived. The generation which has grown up amid the muck of Imperialism is evidently one abject beyond all hope, which must pass away before France can be reborn. In the reconstitution of Europe, France can no longer be taken into account, except, I fear, as a disturbing element, any time these next ten years. The task must lie all the more heavily upon England. But more than ever I believe that to restore the binding character of treaties, to vindicate the principles of the law of nations, and to preclude future wars of aggression through an efficient organization for the maintenance of peace, it is the duty of England, in concert with as many other European Powers as may be induced to join with her (Russia and Prussia always excepted) to take immediate steps for the establishment of a really binding system of international police and arbitration, with armed force for a background. Let her go forth . “in the strength of the Lord God”—the God of justice, the God of mercy, the God of freedom and the nations will soon rally to her side,
J. M. LUDLOW.
THE coming ecclesiastical question of to-day, there is every reason
to believe, is the reform of the public services of the Church of England. For the last half century, the necessity of some such reform has been seen and urged by far-seeing men ; and now at last there seems some probability that a victory is about to be won by that common sense of which we hear so much and see so little. The importance of a simple shortening of the offices of the Prayer-Book, under certain circumstances, has been formally recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his letter to the Bishop of London, dated December 27th ; and the Bishop of Manchester has pointedly urged the importance of introducing a species of “elasticity” into the Church services, which shall make them a more practically serviceable instrument for supplying the special needs of the poor. How soon these expressions of opinion on the part of two of the most energetic prelates in the Church may be expected to bear fruit it is impossible to say. The obstacles which hinder the progress of the most necessary reforms in England, especially of the ecclesiastical kind, are so formidable, that no man can calculate beforehand the weight of that vis inertiæ with which the dulness of mere conservatism backs up the refusals of more active prejudice. However, we have lived to see so many marvellous changes in political and religious life, that it is quite possible that common sense and serious thought
are about to have their turn in liturgical reform. The day may not be far distant when men of all parties will look back upon formed ecclesiastical period with much the same feelings of pity and amazement with which we now contemplate the suicidal bigotries of the age of protection in matters of manufacture and commerce.
Even now, indeed, it is curious and instructive to recall the condition of the question of liturgical reform as it stood some forty or fifty years ago, and to note how completely all parties have changed the point of view from which they regard it. The early numbers of the “ Tracts for the Times” are not generally considered very lively or entertaining productions; but it is impossible to take them up and read them with the light of current events without something like a smile. Considering the existing phenomena of ecclesiastical life, it is difficult to realize that state of popular and clerical opinion which prevailed when the Oxford movement began, and upon which it so rapidly made its mark. Two of the first numbers of the Tracts, the third and the ninth, were devoted to this question of the alteration of the Church services, and they indicate in the clearest manner the latent or explicit views of the enormous majority of the clergy of the period. Nobody can doubt the sincerity or ability of the writer or writers of these two curious tracts ; but they would be just now as utterly thrown away as the old theories about the evils of popular education and the immaculate perfection of the “authorized "version of the Bible.
The Church has now attained a hold upon the affections of the English middle classes which was deemed hopeless to look for in those almost pre-historic times. Not only have her churches, her clergy, and her schools multiplied enormously, but the active hostility of Nonconformity has almost died away. The attacks, both political and religious, upon the Church as an institution which accompanied the agitations of the Parliamentary Reform era have long since totally ceased. And yet we are now prepared for the serious discussion of that very subject of liturgical reform, the simple mention of which aroused the churchmanship of our fathers, and horrified their sensibilities as a grievous proof of the wickedness of the age in which they lived. Among all the superstitions which we have got rid of, none are more significant than the notion that the interests of
practical religion demanded the retention of all the services of the Prayer-Book just as they were cast by the last revisers, without one line of alteration or retrenchment. What reasonable person, for instance, would now argue the question of the propriety of retaining the words that Jesus Christ“ descended into hell” on the ground that if the phrase were changed, “the unstable would learn a habit of criticizing what they should never think of but as a divine voice, supplied by the Church for their need?"
It is, however, to the tract “On Shortening the Church Service" that we should turn, in order to learn what sort of arguments were put forward by some of the most influential men in Oxford in the year 1833. As we read this surprising paper, it is difficult to understand how any learned and able persons could exhibit such ignorance of the facts of ecclesiastical history, of the laws of reasoning, and of the capacities of human nature itself. Yet this was the kind of argument which was found efficacious in those days, and which was among the most fertile seeds of that movement which has produced such wonderful results in our own day. “There is a growing feeling,” begins the tract-writer, “ that the services of the Church are too long, and many persons think it a sound feeling, merely because it is a growing one.” And then he proceeds to offer certain “considerations,” by way of defending not only the weekly, but the daily, use of the Prayer-Book services, without the slightest modification or diminution in length.
First of all, he informs his readers that “though people nowadays think these services too long, there can be no doubt that the primitive believers would have thought them too short.” These are his actual words, and they are not in the smallest degree modified by any part of the context. It was the positive belief of the leaders of the Oxford movement that in the Apostolic Age, and the age that succeeded it, the followers of Christ were in the habit of meeting for united prayer twice every day, and that they spent more than an hour, or an hour and a half, in these devotions. Is it not, I may ask, difficult to believe that such assertions could have been seriously made and seriously accepted ?
But this is not all. The writer goes on to say that “in ancient times Christians, understood very literally all that the Bible says about prayer. David had said, 'Seven times a day will I praise thee, and St. Paul had said, “Pray always.'” Accordingly, he argues, they literally prayed seven separate times during the fourand-twenty hours—i.e., four times during the day, and three times during the night-besides their regular devotions at getting up in the morning and going to bed in the evening. These prayers, it is added, were not, “in the first instance," in public, for that was impossible: but after a time it is implied that it was actually the practice of all good Christians to associate together for public worship. four times every day and three times every night. No wonder that, if such were really the case, the practices of English Churchmen in the
year 1833 exhibited a frightful degeneracy in contrast with the habits of the “ primitive believers."
The source of the confusion of thought involved in this strange statement is, indeed, evident enough. The writer had got hold of the fact that, in the Middle Ages it had become the rule of the Latin
Church that all the clergy and the inmates of monasteries should recite the seven “hours" of the Breviary, either at seven separate times, or in two or three divisions. He knew, also, that the Morning and Evening Prayers of the Church of England are based upon those Breviary offices. Hence, he concluded that what the priesthood and the monks did in the Middle Ages, was done by the laity also in the earliest times; and, as a corollary, that it is the obvious duty of all English people to go to church twice a day to take part in these morning and evening services. Such was the liturgical knowledge and such the arguments which were listened to in the Oxford of those days.
At a time when history and logic were thus reduced to the lowest stages of ignorance and helplessness, every attempt to discuss the advisableness of shortening the Church services on its own merits was, of course, out of the question. The attitude, too, of the HighChurch writers towards any bishops who might be supposed to favour some schemes of liturgical reform was, to say the least, most truly original. “Should you see,” says one of the Tracts, “that our fathers the bishops seem to countenance them, petition still. Petition them. They will thank you for such a proceeding. They do not wish these alterations ; but how can they resist them without the support of their clergy? They consent to them (if they do) partly from the notion that they are thus pleasing you (the clergy). Undeceive them.” And so on. The bishops, in fact, were treated as poor, weak, foolish men, who did not know their own minds, and who might be persuaded into mischief unless petitioned to do their duty, and act upon their real convictions, by their own clergy. What the bishops really were, indeed, in those times of bewilderment, I am not concerned to show. They might have been as amenable to “ pressure as the Tract-writers or their worst enemies could imagine. The practical consideration just now is something to the very opposite effect. Nobody now would dream of imputing hesitation or vacillation to the bishops* who are understood to recognise the importance of taking in hand the whole question of the length of the Church services. Great are the absurdities of petitionmakers; but is there a representative man in Oxford, or even a rector or curate in the very slowest country parish, who would think of getting up petitions to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Manchester, entreating them not to be led astray by the snares of the enemies of the Church and of the Prayer-Book ? At any rate, we have got beyond this.
In truth, the subject has practically ceased to be a party question. When the Oxford writers appealed, and appealed successfully, to the Churchmanship of the clergy to resist all change, the whole liturgical
Written before Feb. 14, 1871.-ED. C. R.