LORD HASTINGS, ETC.,
Knight Of The Most Honorable Order Of The Garter, And Lord President Of The Queen's Majesty's Counsel Established In The North Parts,
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE WISHETH INCREASE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, LONG LIFE, AND HAPPY DAYS.
If that (Right Honorable) I should prefix any long and tedious preface before this work in commendation of your honor, -- I should of some be suspected of flattery; if in praise of these learned Commentaries, -- it should seem a thing superfluous, seeing they sufficiently commend themselves; if in excuse of those faults which are by me in translating hereof committed, -- some censuring Cato would condemn me, because I would take in hand a work so weighty, being not able to be without fault, and by craving pardon for faults laying open my folly. Omitting, therefore, those things which might carry with them such inconveniences, I hasten unto that whereof I am chiefly to speak; namely, to lay open the causes moving me to dedicate this my simple translation unto your honor.
Your deserts of God's church, your singular zeal, your unfeigned faith, your sincere profession, your especial care to advance God's glory, and to root out Papistry, your faithfulness towards your prince, have been such, that this realm generally, but my countrymen in the north parts, my native soil, specially, have, and shall have, great cause to praise God for you in the day of their visitation, even when it shall please God of his great mercy to behold them with favor-able countenance, and to take from them in greater measure that blindness and superstition, wherein they had been long time nousled, and being fast bred by the bone, is not yet (through want of means) gotten out of the flesh. Seeing all these virtues are in you to be found; seeing both this church and country have found you so beneficial, whom ought not these things to provoke to show all thankfulness towards your honor?
Again, when this history of the Acts of the Apostles was first penned in Greek by Luke, it was dedicated to noble Theophilus. When M. Calvin did the second time publish his Commentaries thereupon in Latin, he presented them unto one who was in mind a noble Theophilus. Lest, therefore, this work, now published in English, should by dedication be any whit debased, I have made choice of your honor, being no less a noble Theophilus than those before mentioned.
Another thing, which is not so much a cause as an encouragement, is that courtesy which your honor showeth to those which present unto you any exercises of learning, how simple soever they be, whereof I have had full good experience even in my tender years; namely, at such time as I was trained up in the city of Carlisle, under that man, in his calling painful, and to the commonwealth profitable, M. Hayes, whom for that duty which to him I owe I name. At which time, though those exercises which unto your honor we then presented were simple, yet were they so courteously of you received, that the remembrance thereof doth even now encourage me to presume to offer unto you some weightier matter.
The last, but not the least, is, the consideration of that great and undeserved kindness, which all my friends in general, but especially my brother, your honor's servant, have found at your hands, which, to rip up at large, would be too tedious. In their behalf, therefore, Right Honorable, as also in mine own, as a small testimony of a thankful heart, I present unto your honor this work; simple, if you respect the translation, but most excellent, if you consider the matter. And thus, humbly craving pardon for my boldness, and much more humbly beseeching the Lord to bless you in the reading hereof, I conclude, fearing prolixity. The Lord of heaven bless you, and grant that: as you have been heretofore a good Theophilus, so you may continue to the glory of God, the increasing of his Church, and the profit of this commonwealth.
From Maighfield in Sussex, this 12th of October, 1585.
Your Honor's most humble and obedient,
and in Christ at commandment,