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The History of the Primitive Church of England.
Dedicatory Epistle

Translated by Rev. William Hurst, 1814.

To The Most Renowned King Ceolwulph,

BEDE, Priest and Servant of Christ

The Ecclesiastical History of the English nation, which I lately published, I with great pleasure, at your request, most renowned Monarch, first submitted to your perusal and approbation; and now send it you again, that you may have an opportunity of reflection on it, and copying it at your leisure. I cannot sufficient commend that sincere and ardent zeal, which excites you not only to study the sacred Scriptures with the greatest attention, but also to acquire a knowledge of the lives and maxims of the most illustrious men, who have flourished in former ages, as well in other countries, as especially in this: for history is always very profitable to the virtuous reader. If it relates the good deeds of pious persons, he is encouraged to imitate their laudable example, but if it records the crimes of wicked men, he is struck with horror at them, and by how much the more he is cautioned to shun them, by so much more he is inflamed with zeal to perform such actions are acceptable to God; which you wisely considering, desired to have this history published, for the information and edification of yourself in particular, and of all your subjects in general. Now, to remove all manner of doubt, concerning the truth of what we have written, both from yourself, magnanimous King, and from every one who shall read or hear this history, we will here mention the principal authors whom we have followed in compiling it.

The Abbot Albin, a most respectable person, was the chief promoter of this small work; who, having been educated at Canterbury, by the most learned and venerable prelate Archbishop Theodore and the holy Abbot Adrian, carefully transmitted to us by Nothelm, a virtuous priest of London, an account of every thing which the disciples of Pope Gregory the great had performed (worthy to be recorded ) either from written monuments, or by oral tradition. This Nothelm, going afterwards to Rome, having, with the permission of the present Pope Gregory [II], searched into the Archives of the Holy Roman Church, found there some Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great, and of the other Popes; and, returning home, by the advise of the aforesaid most reverent Abbot Albin, brought them to us to be inserted into our history.

Whatever then we have published, from the beginning of this work, till the time when the English received the Christian faith, we have collected from the various writings of authors who wrote in different places before our time. But, whatever we have related as performed in the church of Canterbury, since that time till the present, either by the disciples of Saint Gregory or by their successors, we have learned from the before mentioned Abbot Albin and Nothelm, who also informed us of several particulars concerning the prelates who first preached the gospel to the East Saxons as well as to the East Angles, The West Saxons and the Northumbrians, and under what kings they were converted to the faith of Christ. In fine, it was chiefly the persuasion of Albin that prevailed on us to undertake this work. We have also been favoured with an account of some things relative to the Church of the West-Saxons, by the Right Rev. Daniel their bishop, who is still living; and who wrote to us also, at the same time , various anecdotes concerning the Church of the adjoining province of the South-Saxons, and also concerning the Isle of Wight. In what manner the Mercians first received the Christian religion, and how the East Saxons recovered it after they had lost it, viz. by the preaching and labours of the devout priests of Christ, Cedd and Ceadda, we have been carefully informed by the brethren of the monastery which was called by them when they built it, Lestingay [Lastingham]; and who also told us the particulars relative to the lives and deaths of these apostolic men.

What relates to the church history of the province of the East-Angles, we have learned partly from the writings of the ancient authors and partly from the report of the most reverend Abbot Esius. And we have been informed by the letters of the most reverend prelate Cynebert, or by the living voice of other faithful and creditable persons, how the Christian faith was preached , and what pastors succeeded each other, in the territory of Lindsey, which is now called Holy Island. Moreover, what we have written of the ecclesiastical affairs of the Northumbrians, proceeded in a great measure from our own knowledge of them, corroborated by the testimony not of one only, but of innumerable witnesses, who had seen them, and could remember them. Amongst which, it is to be particularly observed, that those things which we have recounted of our most holy father and bishop Cuthbert either in this volume, or in the little book which we have published of his life we collected partly from the writings of the monks of the monastery of Lindisfarn, judging them to be of sufficient authority, and partly from the depositions and the solemn attestations of the most creditable persons. We therefore humbly entreat the reader, that, if he shall find any mistake in what we have here written, he will not censure us for it, since we have only followed the general rule of history in carefully committing to writing, for the instruction of posterity, such things as we know from common tradition.