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1184 [1184]

K. Henry. 8. Letters of Tho. Bilney, to Tonstall Byshop of London.

no fleshe should glory in his sight. But now all men, in a maner, will be wise, and therfore they are ashamed of the simple Gospel, they are ashamed truly to say with Paul, and to performe it in deede: Marginalia1. Cor. 2.I brethren, when I came vnto you, dyd not come with excellencie of woordes, or of wysedome, preachyng the testimonye of Christ, for I esteemed not my selfe to know any thyng amongst you, but onely Iesus Christ, and hym crucified. O voyce of a true Euangeliste? But now we are ashamed of this foolishe preaching, by the whiche it hath pleased God, to saue all those whiche beleue in hym, and beyng puffed vp with our own fleshlye minde, chuse rather, proudlye to walke in those thinges which we haue not seene, preachyng fables and lyes, and not the lawe of God, which is vndefiled, conuerting soules. MarginaliaPsal. 18.

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MarginaliaIgnorance of the lawe of God in Prelates, noted.But how should they teache the law of God, which they haue not once read in the bookes, much lesse learned at the mouth of God? But in a Pastor and a Byshop, this is required: Thou sonne of man (sayth God) lay vp in thy hart, all my wordes, whiche I do speake vnto thee. &c. And shortlye after he sayth: Thou sonne of man, I haue ordeined and geuen thee a watchman vnto the house of Israell. I haue geuen thee, MarginaliaEzech. 3.sayth hee: not comming in by ambition, nor thrustyng in thy selfe, nor climyng in an other waye, but I gaue thee, when thou lookedst not for it, that thou shouldest attende therupon and geue warnyng from the toppe of the watch Tower, if any enemyes shoulde approche. I haue geuen thee vnto the house of Israell, and not the house of Israell vnto thee, MarginaliaGod geueth pastours to hys flocke: and not hys flocke to the pastours.that thou shouldest acknowledge thy selfe to bee the seruaunt of the shepe, & not their Lord, for I haue not geuē the shepe for the shepheard, but the shepheard for the shepe. MarginaliaThe congregation sitteth downe: The pastors be but seruitures.He that sitteth downe is greater then he that doth minister and serue vnto him. MarginaliaPastors seruantes to the congregatiōs for Christes cause, & not maisters.Which thyng was well knowen of hym, whiche truly sayd: We are your seruaūtes for Christes cause.

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But for what purpose haue I geuen thee vnto the house of Israell? That thou shouldest onely minister the Sacramentes, consecrate woode, stones, and churchyardes? (this, I take God to witnes) with great sighes and grones I write vnto you, pouryng out before you þe griefe of my hart.) No truly. What then? MarginaliaThe true office of pastors, well described out of Ezechiell.First foloweth the office of the Byshop. Thou shalt here the worde out of my mouth. This is but a short lesson, but such, as all the world cannot comprehende, without they be inwardly taught of God. And what ells meaneth this, out of my mouth thou shalt heare the word, but þt thou shalt be taught of God. Therefore as many as are not taught of God, although they be neuer so well excercised in the Scriptures by mans helpe, yet are they not watch men geuen by God, & much lesse they which doe not vnderstand and know the Scriptures. And therfore such as these be, lest they should kepe silence and say nothing, are alwayes harpyng vpon the traditions & doctrines of mē, that is, lyes: for he þt speaketh of him self, speaketh lyes. Of these it is written: They would be doctours of the law, not vnderstāding what they speake, neither of whō they speake. Marginalia1. Tim. 1.Such, of necessitie, they must all bee, who speake that with their mouth, whiche they do not beleue because they are not inwardly taught of God, neither are persuaded in their hartes, that it is true: and therfore they are not to be accompted as shepe, although they boast them selues to be shepheardes. But contrariwise, touchyng the true and learned Pastors geuen by God, it may bee truly sayd: Marginalia1. Iohn. 1.we speake that which we know, and that which we haue seene (euen with the vnfallible eyes of our faith) we doe witnes: MarginaliaThe propertie of true pastors.and these are neither deceiued, neither do deceiue. Moreouer, þe deceiuers procede to worse & worse, erryng them selues, and bringyng others also to errour, and because they are of the worlde, the worlde doth willingly heare them. They are of the world (sayth S. Iohn) Marginalia1. Iohn. 4.and therefore they speake those thynges whiche are of the world, and the world geueth eare vnto them.

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Behold reuerent father, this is the touchstone of our dayly preachyng. Hath not the worlde geuen eare vnto them now a long tyme, with great pleasure and delite? But the fleshe coulde neuer suffer the preachyng of the crosse, nor yet the wisedome of the fleshe, whiche is enemy vnto God, neither is subiect vnto his law, nor cannot be. MarginaliaA true note of syncere doctrine.And why thē are they accused to be heretickes and Schismatickes, whiche will not seke to please men, but onely to their edifiyng? beyng mindefull of that place of Scripture: MarginaliaEsay. 30.God hath dispersed the bones of them, which please men, saying vnto them, speake vnto vs pleasauntthinges. But now lettyng these matters passe we will come vnto the second poynt, wherin you aske how a mā should preach better? MarginaliaAn information to preachers, to preach rightlye.Forsoth, if we had heard him, of whom the father spake saying: This is my dearly beloued sonne in whom I am wel pleased, heare him. Who also speakyng of him selfe, sayd: It was meete that Christ should suffer and rise agayne the third day from death, and that in hys name repentaūce and remission of sinnes should be preached vnto all people. What other thyng is that, then the same whiche the other Euangelistes do write: Go ye into the whole world, and preache the Gospell vnto euery creature: he that beleueth and is Baptised, shalbe saued. MarginaliaMath. 28.What can bee more pleasaunt, sweete, or acceptable vnto afflicted consciences beyng almost in dispayre, then this most ioyfull tydynges?

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But here, whether Christ haue ben a long time heard, I know not, for that I haue not heard all the preachers of England, and if I had heard thē, yet till it was within this yeare or two, I could not sufficiently iudge of thē. But this I dare be bold to affirme, þt as many as I haue heard of late preach (I speake euē of þe most famous) they haue preached such repentaūce, that if I had heard such preachers of repentaunce in tymes past, I should vtterly haue bene in despayre. MarginaliaThe preaching after the popes church is all to beare down, and not to lifte vp.And to speake of one of those famous men (not vttering his name) 

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The famous preacher Bilney mentioned here cannot be identified.

after he had sharpely inueyed agaynst vyce, (wherein hee pleased euery godly man, for somuch as it coulde not bee sufficientlye cryed out vpon) he concluded: beholde (sayd he) thou haste lyen rottyng in thyne owne lustes, by the space of these lx. yeares, euen as a beast in his owne dunge, and wilt thou presume in one yeare, to goe forward toward heauen, & that in thyne age, asmuch as thou wentest backwardes from heauen towardes hell in lx. yeres? MarginaliaBy thys one you may see what all the rest are.Is not thys think you a goodly argumēt? Is this þe preaching of repentaunce in the name of Iesus? or rather to tread down Christ with Antichristes doctrine? for what other thyng did he speake in effect, then that Christ dyed in vayne for thee? He will not be thy Iesus or Sauiour, thou must make satisfaction for thy selfe, or els thou shall perishe eternally. MarginaliaMarke the maner of the common preaching of the Papistes.Then doth S. Iohn lye whiche sayth: Behold the Lambe of God whiche taketh away the sinnes of the world. And in an other place: His bloud hath cleanesed vs from all our sinnes. And agayne: He is the propitiation for the sinnes of the whole world: Marginalia1. Iohn. 1.Beside an infinite nomber of other places. What other thyng is this, then that whiche was spoken by the holy Ghost, by the mouth of Peter, saying: There shall be false teachers that shall denye the Lord Iesus, whiche hath redemed them. MarginaliaThe effecte and end of the popes doctrine.And what foloweth vppon such doctrine of deuils speakyng lyes through hypocrisie? a cōscience dispayring & without all hope, & so geuē ouer vnto all wicked lustes, according to the saying of S. Paul: After that they become to this point that they sorow no more, they geue them selues ouer vnto wantonnes, to cōmit all kinde of filthines, euen with a gredie desire: For seyng þt it is impossible for thē to make satisfactiō to God, eyther they murmure agaynst God, or els they do not beleue hym to be so cruell as they do preach, & declare him to be. The lacke of paper wil not suffer me to write any more, & I had rather to speake it in priuate talke vnto your self. Wherunto if you would admitte me, I trust you should not repent you therof: and vnto me (Christ I take to my witnes) it would bee a great cōfort: in whō I wish you wt all your flocke, hartely wel to fare.

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Your prisoner and humble beadman 

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beadman: one who prays regularly for another.


vnto God for you, Thomas Bilney.

Thus haue you the letters, the abiuration, and Articles of Tho. Bilney. MarginaliaBilney caste downe with repentaunce.After whiche abiuration, made about the yeare of our Lorde. 1529. the sayd Bilney tooke such repentaūce and sorow, that he was nere the poynt of vtter dispayre: as by the wordes of M. Latimer is credibly testified, whose woordes for my better discharge, I thought here to annexe, written in hys seuenth Sermon 

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John Day began to print Latimer's sermons when he was working with William Seres as early as 1548, with the backing of Katherine Brandon, the widowed Duchess of Suffolk, whose arms appear at the beginning of Latimer's books. Further details about her patronage of Latimer and other preachers, and of printers, can be found in my account of her life in ODNB (under Katherine Bertie). Latimer preached before King Edward VI's court during Lent 1549, and his comments on Bilney occur in a section that muses on the fear of death. Day and Seres printed at least three editions of Latimer's court sermons that year. The quotation 'Bilney, litle Bilnei, that blessed martyr of GOD', can be seen in Latimer's Seventh Sermon preached before King Edward VI: The seconde sermon of Maister Hughe Latimer, whych he preached before the Kynges Maiestie within his graces Palayce at Westminster, the xv. day of Marche M.ccccc.xlix (London: John Day and William Seres [1549], STC 15274.7), sigs. Bb3A-Bb3B; (reprinted in the Parker Society edition of Latimer's Sermons, ed. George Elwes Corrie (Cambridge, 1844), p. 222.

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preached before kyng Edward, whiche be these: MarginaliaEx Latim. Sermon. 7.I knewe a man my selfe, Bilney, litle Bilney, that blessed Martyr of God, who what tyme hee had borne his fagot, & was come agayne to Cābridge, had such conflictes within him selfe (beholdyng this Image of death) that his frendes were afrayde to let him be alone. They were fayne to be with him day and night, and comforte him, as they could: but no comfortes would serue. And as for the comfortable places of Scripture, to bryng them vnto hym, it was, as

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though
TTt.iiij.
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