Title Page

Title: Heathen Britain.
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00056828/00001
 Material Information
Title: Heathen Britain.
Series Title: Heathen Britain.
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Religious Tract Society
Place of Publication: London
General Note: Juvenile Missionary Tract
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00056828
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - AMF3058
alephbibnum - 002447798

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
Full Text


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LEss than two thousand years ago the
name of BRITAIN was almost unknown

in the world. It sounded more strangely
to the people who then lived, than the
name Samoa, or that of some other dis-
tant island, does to us. The Romans had
sent their ships and soldiers to nearly
every land, but Brita.n they thought un-
worthy of their notice. They looked on
it as the utmost end of the earth, and the
people who lived there as savages.
But when Julius Cesar saw from the
shores of France, then called Gaul, the
white cliffs of Britain, he resolved to
invade the island. He had no better
design than to rob a weak nation, and to
carry many of its people as slaves to Rome.
The Britons were overcome, and Caesar
returned home as a conqueror.
About a hundred years after this time,
a learned Roman wrote a geography of
the world, and when he came to describe
Britain, he said he regretted he was so
little acquainted with it, though he
hoped the island and its wild natives
would soon be better known.
We will suppose we lived in the time
of this Roman writer, and were about to
visit the ancient island. As we look on it

in its heathen state, what are the scenes
that meet our view ?
There lies the country of Britain as in
former days. Do we see the broad plains
spread out into fields, divided by roads,
and adorned with white cottages and
farms ? Are the fields covered with grain;
or are meadows, gardens, and orchards
to be seen? No such pleasing sights
meet our view. All around is dark and
deep forest. Only thick woods are before
us for miles, with here and there an open
space cleared for cattle to graze, or on
which to build a few huts. Marshes and
pools of water cover the land in many
parts. No busy cities, no spires or domes,
no factories or schools, meet our eye:
the sights and sounds which fill the land
in our day were unknown in ai cient
Let us now look at the house of a Bri-
ton. It is a low hut made of poles and
reeds. A few stakes are driven into the
ground; the reeds are woven around, and
the spaces are filled up with clay. There
is no door, no window, no chimney. In
the middle of the hut a rude fireplace is


formed, and the smoke makes its way out
of a hole in the roof. Around the house
is a yard, into which cattle are driven
at night, to secure them from the wild
beasts of the forest; and a wall of timber
and turf defends the house from the attack
of robbers. Inside the house, all the fur-
niture to be seen are one or two stools,
a rough table, a few drinking-cups, and
a spear.
Now observe the dress of a Briton.
It is only the skins of animals thrown
around his neck, and falling down to his
knees. He has no covering for his head,
no shoes or sandals on his feet. His hair
behind hangs long and loose, and the
beard on the upper lip is suffered to grow.
How strangely is his body marked with
figures of different kinds I He has tat-
tooed, or pricked his flesh with a sharp
point, and has rubbed into the wounds
the juice of a plant called woad, to make
himself look terrible when he meets his
enemies in battle.
Again behold him, and observe his food
and employment. His fare is scant, chiefly
the milk and flesh of cattle; he has not

learned to make butter or cheese, and he
knows scarcely anything of bread. The
wild fruit of the trees, or roots and herbs,
furnish a mean repast. A few only of the
people who live near the sea-coast sow
and reap the land; the rest are chiefly
engaged in hunting or in warfare. But
some who reside near the rivers, lakes, and
sea,-live partly on fish. Their boats are
small canoes, formed from trunks of trees,
or of wickerwork covered with hides of
beasts to keep out the water.
Here is a British warrior. He is the
chief of one of the many tribes which in-
habit the land, and who fiercely fight one
against the other. In one hand is a long
spear, on his left arm a small shield
made of leather, and at his girdle a
small axe. Not far from him is his war-
chariot, a rude cart; and from the middle
of the wheel a sharp scythe projects. He
mounts his chariot, flourishes his spear,
and is ready to dash into the thickest of
the fight.
Such is the picture of an ancient
Briton. As we look at him, it seems as
though we were looking at a wild Indian

of America, or a New Zealand chief.
Surely he was no better off, no richer,
no wiser.
We will now consider the religion of an
ancient Briton. He was a poor heathen,
and knew not the true God. No promise
of a Saviour had ever reached his ear.
He bowed down to idols, and his feet were
"swift to shed blood. Destruction and
misery" were in his ways; and "the way
of peace" he knew not. After the Lord
Jesus Christ had died on the cross, and his
gospel had been preached in many lands,
but few of the Britons knew the joyful
sound; they were nearly as much stran-
gers to it as the people of China are now.
Let us suppose a British chief is taken
ill. There is in his heart a natural dread of
being punished for his sins, and he sends
for the druids, or priests. They approach,
with oak-leaves round their heads, and
long wands in their hands. They tell the
dying chief that a sacrifice must be offered
to remove his guilt. A large image is
then made of branches of trees, twined
together in the shape of a human body,
and on the top a painted frightful head

Is placed. The body and limbs of this
image are filled with men, women, and
children. They have been taken in war,
or are said to be guilty of crime. Wood
is now piled around the image, and the
whole is set on fire. Or, it may be, a
servant of the chief is chosen, and is bound
to the trunk of an oak tree; a druid then
strikes the young man dead with a knife,
and as the blood gushes from the body
the savage people shout aloud for joy.
Such is Britain as it was. This was the
'heathen state of our forefathers. Contrast
it with Britain as it is. Cities and towns
are spread over the land. The mansions of
the great and the cottages of the lowly,
with houses for the worship of the true
God, colleges and schools, appear on every
side. Its ships sail on every sea, and
enter the harbours of almost every shore,
and its colonies are in all parts of the
world. And if there be a favoured land,
where learning, happiness, charity, and
piety are found, it is this land which was
* once sunk in heathen crime and idolatry.
Who can tell how much Britain owes
to the Bible? Now thousands in this

country know and love the Saviour. In-
stead of shedding human blood, they trust
in the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleans-
eth from all sin. The holy and kind spirit
of the gospel rules in their hearts; and
whilst they enjoy the blessings of the true
religion, they seek to make known those
blessings to others. Let us consider that
the tribes of New Zealand, the negroes
in Africa, and the natives of many other
lands, are in similar state to that in which
Britain once was found; a time may come
when they shall be as England now is.
We reap the fruits of the labours of mis-
sionaries in ages long gone by; may we
labour for others, who shall be blessed
through us in ages to come.
Youthful reader I Do you love the
Saviour? Are you seeking mercy through
his merits and death? Are you obeying
his word? Seriously ask yourself these
questions, and "may the Lord give you
understanding in all things."

Religious Tiact Society : instituted 1799



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