Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

of the horizon, which as it gradually approached was discovered to be an Arab warrior, mounted and fully armed. When he arrived within due distance, he was hailed according to the oriental fashion, and called upon to mention his name and tribe. He gave his name with a dignified tone and manner, and added that he was of the lineage and family of Jonadab the son of Rechab, concerning whom the Lord himself had said, “that he never should want a man to stand before him for ever."

We also, my brethren, although without a promise, are a remnant spared by God's mercy, when for their sins he visited our ancestors with heavy punishments; and we ought to regard this merciful abstinence on his part as a signal favour. For of the historical nations within the verge of the Roman Empire, we are almost the sole people which has a national existence within the precincts of our ancient inheritance. Think of the nations that have passed away without leaving any great visible memorial of their past existence. Where are Babylon and her Chaldeans? Where mighty Nineveh and her Assyrian Bands? Where is populous Noe, the Hundred-gated Thebes and her Egyptian warriors? Where are the Pharaohs and the Builders of the still surviving Pyramids? Where are the skilful Sailors of Sidon, and the Merchant Princes of Tyre? Where are now the descendants of the wealthy Tuscans, the flourishing Carthaginians, and the numerous colonies of the Greeks, in Sicily, Italy, Gaul, and Spain? They have all perished; and if we except a few wretched Copts, who still call themselves the descendants of the subjects of the Pharaohs, not an individual of their name and nation can be recognised.

But we, my brethren, have been spared; we still represent the men of ancient history, who dwelt in this land; we are still “Gwyr Dyfed,” descendants of the ancient Demetæ, whom the Romans found in possession of these our mountain

* “Viri Demetiæ," Men of Demetia.

homes and vallies. The chief city* of our district still bears that name, which it bore when the geography of our country was described by the learned Ptolemy, and the river which has never ceased to flow through this fertile valley, still bears unchanged the name,+ which Roman lips failed exactly to communicate to the Alexandrian Geographer. We ought to regard this as a privilege, and a special mark of God's favour, by which he testifies that he has not altogether forsaken us. And I would humbly ascribe this singular mark of God's favour, not to the valour of our gallant wariors, not to the fortresses of our native land, for South Wales is singularly void of natural fortresses, not to the eloquence of our persuasive speakers, not to the musical charms of our ancient melodies, not to the fiery war-songs of our mediæval bards, not to the gentler influences of our more modern poets, but to that unshaken fidelity with wbich as a nation we have cherished that Christian faith, which in the Apostolical age was preached in this island, and warmly embraced by our progenitors. I

It may safely be affirmed that the British Church, together with her child in the faith, the ancient Church of Ireland, retained, with a fidelity unknown to other portions of the Western Church, that form of sound words, which they had inherited from their Apostolical instructors, and that more of the dangerous principles, which finally ripened into the deadly errors of Papal Rome, may be traced to the agency of the monk Augustine and his companions, than to the influence of any member of the British Church. All the special errors adopted by Rome during the progress of the fifth and sixth century were unknown to the Britons, and they justly regarded as suspicious innovations, practices which were unknown to their earlier instructors in the faith. And

* Maridunum, Caermarthen. + The Towy, which the Romans called Tobius.

For a proof of this assertion, see my Essay entitled “ Claudia and Pudens," where other truths respecting our race and Church may also be found.

yet, for refusing to adopt practices so questionable in their origin and indifferent in their nature, or rather for not conceding spiritual obedience to a stranger, who possessed no national claim to their allegiance, our ancesters were pronounced contumacious and heretical, and had a long course of persecutions to endure from the Anglican emissaries of Rome. These did not cease until the Reformation dawned upon England, when, as a Church and a nation, we rejoiced in the coming day; and as we never had been attached to the doctrines and practices of Rome, we shook off its tyrany, and the Rome-imposed abuses, with one slight effort.

On this head it may be briefly recapitulated, that we received the faith from a pure source; that we preserved it pure for centuries; that we never ceased to protest against the assumed authority and strange doctrines of the Church of Rome; that when better times arrived, we joyfully joined the party of the Anglican Reformers, adhered to our ancient faith, which by God's grace we still hold, and by God's aid will continue to maintain and uphold.

I am not discouraged in this expectation, that our faith will continue to be sound by the fact that a more gloomy view of our Christian state as a people may be entertained by persons who know no more of us, than what can be gleaned from the reports lately published of certain Commissioners, who were engaged by Government to examine the state of general education in Wales. Of these gentlemen I would speak with all the respect due to them, as emissaries of the executive power commissioned to perform duties of a very delicate nature. But still I must confess that, making all due allowance for the mistakes, into which as strangers to our habits and language they were very likely to fall, their charity does not partake of the Apostolical character, for it certainly has not prevented them from exposing "a multitude of sins.” They have certainly laid very bare a state of things, which need strong remedies, but which have been unaccountably allowed to proceed from bad to worse, until, if we can believe their statement, any change of the present system would be desirable.

Undoubtedly some practices described by them as prevalent among our people, are detestable and abominable. They ought to be amended, and as a Church and a people we ought to join in setting upon them the seal of our common reprobation; we ought publicly to confess them before our congregations, and call upon them to aid us in amending them before God and man.

I have a personal knowledge, acquired by a longer intercourse with the people of England and Scotland, of the vices and virtues of the more neglected portion of the community, in these our sister countries, than these gentlemen could possibly have acquired during their official investigations; and I have no hesitation in saying, that whether we consider crimes as dangerous to social order, or destructive of good principles in the breast of the individual, I would, if like David I were called upon to make a wretched choice between certain evils, prefer a conviction under the indictment framed by the Commissioners against my kinsmen according to the flesh, than under the charges which, as I know, might legitimately be pressed against the members of the dangerous classes in England and Scotland. We, my brethren, have escaped the higher charges of blood-guiltiness, of adultery, of open robbery, and open anti-social practices of a darker character; and we have so escaped, as I firmly believe, because as a nation we have amidst all our short-comings preserved the foundation of the faith. In this fact I recognise the cause of our safety, and cannot but express my confident expectation, that the purifying power of sound doctrine will ultimately heal all that is corrupt in practice.

Again I say, let us not be discouraged by the harsh report of the Commissioners, much less allow ourselves to be irritated. Perhaps we may be justified in reminding them, that although they have been bitter admonishers of our poorer brethren, although they have noted down with servile fidelity the harsher features of the national countenance, they have utterly failed to give any indication of that living soul which is still visible in the flashing eye and eloquent expression of

the whole face, and have as a body wanted either the sagacity or the boldness to discover the real causes, or to censure the real authors of the state, which they seem so deeply to deplore. Other strangers have before this come among us, and conceived very erroneous opinions respecting our real character. Augustine, the Romish monk for example, described our forefathers as utterly reprobate, because their clergy did not cut their hair after the Roman fashion, nor celebrate Easter according to a late arrangement of the Roman Calendar.

But still we were not so very deficient in essentials, as this uncharitable judge might have wished his principals to believe, and Rome did not find it difficult to find numerous Saints amidst the Christians she had so mercilessly condemned.

This very day, dedicated to the name and memory of the Demetian David, a great Saint of our name and blood, testifies that Rome better informed could not refuse to set her seal of approbation to the character of the leading members of our Church in the age immediately preceding the visit of Augustine. That bigot, had he found him alive, when he came among us, would have condemned him with as little remorse as he did his brother Bishops, in the next age. But time removes unfounded prejudices, and Rome at a later period chose to make a saint of the same man, whom her missionary Bishop would willingly have converted into a martyr, had he fallen into his persecuting hands.

We honour this day, which still bears his name, not from any superstitious feelings, not from any hope that he can shed, from his place of rest, any beneficial influence on our souls, much less from any respect for his Romish canonization, but to testify our gratitude to God, for allowing a man so honoured and reverenced by his own age and people to arise from among us, and to give utterance to a prayer that many like him may arise from our race, and like him guide them in the ways of truth. Nor, while drawing to a conclusion, can I forget to mention the name of a Vicar of Llan

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »