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Prefatory note.

Before the same Parliament to which the last discourse was delivered, Dr Owen made a similar appearance on October 30, 1656. The close of the sermon gives a vivid picture of the religious state of Wales. We have seen that, in the first sermon he ever preached before Parliament, he took the opportunity of urging the necessity of some measures for promoting education and religion in that part of Britain. The circumstance that he was descended from a Welsh family, may account for the special interest which he evinced in the religious welfare of Wales. Great religious destitution prevailed in it. The Welsh at this time had neither Bibles nor Catechisms, and had scarcely sermon four times in the year. In 1649 an act was passed for the better propagation of the gospel, and the ejection of scandalous clergymen, in Wales. From the report of the commissioners in 1652, one hundred and seventy-five ministers had been ejected since 1645. Through the exertions of Parliament, one hundred and fifty preachers were appointed to officiate in thirteen Welsh counties; whose zeal in their duties may be judged of from the fact, that most of them preached three or four days every week. A schoolmaster was appointed for every market-town; and two of superior qualifications, educated at the university, were supported in all the larger towns. In addition to all this agency, six itinerant preachers were appointed for each county, at an allowance of £100; these were aided by the services of thirty, two ministers; and as all these arrangements were insufficient to meet the necessities of the case, pious laymen travelled through the counties, and conducted public devotion in the presence of the people. The first sermon of Owen had, accordingly, borne ample fruit. Whitelocke tells us, that in 1649 every Friday was devoted by Parliament to the purpose of consulting in regard to the spread and maintenance of religion. These facts deserve to be known to their credit, as evincing a lively and zealous interest in the highest welfare of the people, whatever view may be taken of the duty or competency of the state to make such provision for the support of the gospel and the spiritual enlightenment of a nation. For full details on these points, the reader may be referred to Neal, vol. iv. pp. 14 and 104, and the publications of the Rev. Vavasor Powell, one of the commissioners, in defence of their proceedings. — Ed.

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