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MANIFOLD as are the blessings for which Englishmen are beholden to the institutions of their country, there is no part of those institutions from which they derive more important advantages than from its Church Establishment, none by which the temporal condition of all ranks has been so materially improved. So many of our countrymen would not be ungrateful for these benefits, if they knew how numerous and how great they are, how dearly they were prized by our forefathers, and at how dear a price they were purchased for our inheritance ; by what religious exertions, what heroic devotion, what precious lives, consumed in pious labours, wasted away in dungeons, or offered up amid the flames. This is a knowledge which, if early inculcated, might arm the young heart against the pestilent errors of these distempered times. I offer, therefore, to those who regard with love and reverence the religion which they have received from their fathers, a brief but comprehensive record, diligently, faithfully, and conscientiously composed, which they may put into the hands of their children. Herein it will be seen from what heathenish delusions and inhuman rites the inhabitants of this island have been delivered by the Christian faith ; in what manner the best interests of the country were advanced by the clergy even during the darkest ages of papal domination; the errors and crimes of the Romish Church, and how, when its corruptions were at the worst, the day-break of the Reformation appeared among us: the progress of that Reformation through evil
and through good; the establishment of a Church pure in its doctrines, irreproachable in its order, beautiful in its forms; and the conduct of that Church proved, both in adverse and in prosperous times, alike faithful to its principles when it adhered to the monarchy during a successful rebellion, and when it opposed the monarch who would have brought back the Romish superstition, and together with the religion, would have overthrown the liberties, of England,
RELIGION OF THE ANCIENT BRITONS.
The light of God, which at the creation was imparted to man, hath never been extinguished. From the patriarchs it descended to the prophets, and from the prophets to the apostles ; but there were many who wandered and lost the light, and their offspring became inheritors of darkness. Thus it fared with our forefathers. We know not when, or from whence, they reached the British Islands ; Scripture hath not recorded it, and it was in times beyond the reach of other history. There is reason to believe that they brought with them some glimmerings of patriarchal faith, and some traditional knowledge of patriarchal history. Other tribes followed at various times and from various places, some from the Baltic and from Germany, some from the opposite coasts of Belgium and Gaul, others from Spain ; the Phenicians also traded here ; and our fathers being ignorant, and far removed from those among whom the truth was preserved, received the fables and superstitions of the new comers, and blended them with their own, till they fell at length into the abominations of idolatry.
Their priests, the Druids, are said to have retained the belief of one supreme God, all-wise, all-mighty, and all-merciful, from whom all things which have life proceed. They held also, the immortality of the soul : whatever else they taught was deceit or vanity. Thus, it is said, they believed that the soul began to exist in the meanest insect, and proceeded through all the lower orders of existence, ascending at each new birth to a higher form, till it arrived at its human stage; this, according to their philosophy, being necessary, that it might collect, during its pro
In this account of the Bardic or Druidical philosophy, I follow the Triads, and the authority of my old acquaintances, Mr. William Owen and Mr. Edward Williams. The authenticity of the Welsh remains has been investigated by Mr. Turner, with his characteristic industry and judgement.