THE PURPORT OF THE FOLLOWING PAGES is to exhibit, in one view, the various features of the ancient Church of Cymru during its metro-political existence. A work of this nature was always desirable, but the want of it was never, perhaps, so much felt as now, when ecclesiastical antiquities are so generally canvassed among Christians.
It is true that we are already in possession of several treatises relative to the religion of our Catholic ancestors; and the learned authors who bequeathed them to us ought not to be mentioned except in terms of respect and gratitude. Still we are free to confess that their researches are not of a form sufficiently systematical, plain, and comprehensive, to suit the cravings and capacities of the ordinary reader. Subjects of main interest only, such as the origin, government, or independence of the Church, have been expressly investigated, whilst particulars, apparently of minor importance, have been left wholly untouched, or but incidentally and subserviently noticed.
Some of the writers may have conducted themselves also more as advocates in support of their respective positions, than as candid and impartial historians. Some have couched their facts and opinions in a language inaccessible to the community at large. And all have more or less confounded the character of the Cambrian with that of its sister Churches in the northern and southern provinces of Britain.
Further, those who have endeavoured to describe the historical progress of early Christianity in
the island, have either stopped with the mission of Augustine, or else deviated in an Anglican direction, overlooking afterwards not only the distinctive character, but even the very existence of the Church of Wales.
Hence it was necessary, that, whosoever wished to be fairly acquainted with any of its details, should cull his information, by a laborious process, from different and scattered fields. These considerations denote that the accounts which hitherto we have of the ancient British Church are far from complete. The present volume is therefore intended, not by any means to supersede them, but in some measure to supply their deficiencies, and that with especial reference to Cymru.
The Church of the Cymry is selected, not merely because former writers have delineated it less correctly than its neighbours, but rather inasmuch as it was the original, and therefore the legitimate communion of the land. For thus may be truly applied to that people as a Church, what was said of them as a nation: “No one has any right to the isle of Prydain but the tribe of the Cymry, for they first settled in it,” i.e. as Christians. Possessing the primary see, their archbishops could justly claim patriarchal jurisdiction over all the dioceses in the island.