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THE ORIGIN, LEARNING, RELIGION, AND CUSTOMS OF
THE ANCIENT BRITONS.
“ Majestic Pile! whose tower'd summit stands
On the site of this sacred edifice' it is probable there once stood a temple for idolatrous worship. Though now, through the divine clemency, this land is become a Goshen of light, it was previously covered with moral darkness, and abounded in habitations of cruelty. Destitute of the Holy Scriptures, the authorised outward means of obtaining correct theological knowledge, the inhabitants lived in awful ignorance of the one only living and true God, and without any rational hope of a future state. They had altars, and temples, but not reared for the Almighty, nor consecrated to his service; they had officiating priests, but they were totally incompetent to
instruct the people in the way of righteousness; they had sacrifices, but they were not appointed of God, nor acceptable in his sight. They were under the influence of a blind and degrading superstition, devoid of all sound principle, and of all spirituality of mind. And in this state of religious destitution they continued, till the Gospel of Christ, with its illuminating and renovating power, reached this island, and a free and present salvation was offered to their attention and choice.
One language prevailed among mankind, not only in the antediluvian world, but even on this side the flood, to the building of the tower of Babel, in the land of Shinar. Pride and presumption were manifested by those concerned in the erection of that tower; and so displeased was the Almighty with this conduct, that he confounded their language, and by this means disconcerted their measures.
The heads of families or tribes, now speaking different languages, began to form themselves into separate companies ; and of course became different people or nations. were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue-after their families in their nations."
It is agreed, that the earliest inhabitants of Britain were descendants of Japhet, the son of Noah. The posterity of Japhet, by his sons Gomer, Magog, Madia, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras, exceedingly increasing, under the names of Gomerians, Celts, Gauls, as well as various other names, peopled the northern half of Asia, and the whole of Europe. Thus was accomplished that primitive promise, “ God shall enlarge Japhet.” There are many great authorities for believing that the Celtæ were the descendants of Gomer, the eldest son of Japhet. Our attention will be directed chiefly to the ancient Britons.
By these ORIGIN.—The opinions entertained by different authors concerning the first colonizers of Britain are various. The generality of English writers on this subject, think, with Tacitus, the Roman historian, that they came hither from Gaul. But Tacitus was never in Britain, and what he has written relating to the antiquity of the Britons, was but contingent to his purpose, the whole scope of his design being to describe the actions of his father-in-law, Julius Agricola, during his lieutenancy in this island, and not to show the ancient state and origin of the Britons.
Dr. Stukeley gives it as his opinion, that the most ancient Britons came by sea from the eastern countries, Phoenicia, Arabia, Egypt, and that before Gaul was peopled. Theophilus, who was Bishop of Antioch, in the year 160, says, that the “ Asiatic emigrants arrived in Britain soon after the dispersion from Babel.” If this assertion be correct, says one, they must have come by sea: since to have migrated so far westward by land would have required a much greater length of time. Hence the population of Britain may have been effected, whilst the western parts of Europe were absolutely uninhabited.
Aylett Sammes, in his Antiquities of Ancient Britain, contends for a Phænician origin. He says, “ The language itself for the most part, as well as the customs, religion, idols, offices, dignities, of the ancient Britons, are all clearly Phoenician; as likewise their instruments of war, as slings, and other weapons, their scythed chariots, and their different names, and several distinctions. Out of the same tongue,” he says, “I have illustrated several monuments of antiquity found out and still remaining in Britain, which can in no ways be