THE substance of the following work was originally published as miscellaneous papers in a monthly periodical during the year 1839, and collected at the close of the series as a separate tractate. The present republication has been suggested by the favourable reception and speedy sale of the first rough sketch already presented to the public. During those intervals of time when the writer has found himself released from other engagements, he has endeavoured, to the best of his ability, to gather up the precious fragments which remain in the works of historians of acknowledged authority respecting the primitive Church of Britain, that no part of so valuable a treasure might be lost. If nothing more has been effected than merely collecting and arranging the materials of our early Church history, and placing them in a light best calculated to convey instruction, it will be a satisfaction to have exerted even the feeblest effort.
The particular period of history discussed in the following pages is one of considerable interest to the ecclesiastical student, embracing as it does an account of the rise and progress of the infant Church of our country, and the triumphs of the faith over druidical mythology and Roman paganism. From the title of his work, it will be perceived that the writer has confined himself almost entirely to the Church history of this early period, and has only indirectly referred to its civil and political, with a view to illustrate its ecclesiastical affairs. Of the invasion of Britain under Julius Caesar, and again under Claudius—its struggles for liberty under Caractacus, Boadicea, and others— the rise of the British tyrants—the desertion of the island by the Romans—the irruption of the Picts and Scots—and the establishment of the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, much has already appeared in the volumes of those who have written expressly on the civil and military transactions of Britain.
The origin and true nature of our social and political institutions must ever form a subject of peculiar interest for the study and reflection of every Englishman; but to the Christian who believes that the Church is the divinely appointed channel for conveying the precious gifts promised by God to his people, its introduction into his native land must be a matter of no common importance. He looks back on its earliest dawn with pleasing retrospection, watches its progress with intense solicitude, and at every step feels a personal interest in all the vicissitudes of its eventful history.