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1180 [1180]

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

med, or no. MarginaliaDancaster conferreth with Bilney.The Byshop graunted him, that hee should haue a litle tyme to deliberate with M. Dancaster: but Bilney required space till the nexte morow to consulte with M. Farmar 

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Dr. Robert Foreman of Queen's College, Cambridge, and rector of All Hallows, Honey Lane in London, warned some thirty persons in Cambridge in 1526 that a search was about to be made for Luther's books at the university by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Cambridge Chancellor John Fisher, bishop of Rochester.

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and Maister Dancaster. But the Byshop woulde not graunt hym hys request, for feare lest he should appeale. But at the last, the Byshop enclinyng vnto him, graunted him two nightes respite to deliberate: that is to say, til Saterday at ix. of the clocke afore none, and then to geue a playne determinate aūswere, what he would do in the premisses.

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The vij. day of December, in the yeare and place aforesayd, the Bishop of London, with þe other Bishops beyng assēbled, Bilney also personally appeared. Whō the Byshop of London asked, whether he would now returne to the vnitie of the Church, and reuoke the errours and heresies wherof hee stode accused, detected, and conuicted. MarginaliaBilney through infirmitie rather then by conuiction, recanteth.Who aunswered that now he was persuaded by Maister Dancaster and other his frendes, 

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In after years, Latimer recommended that those accused should 'Abiure al your fryends' rather than listen to them and abjure as Bilney did in 1527. 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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he would submit him self, trusting þt they would deale gentillye with him, both in his abiuration, & penaūce. Thē he desired þt he might read his abiuration: which þe Byshop graunted. When he had read the same secretly by him selfe, & was returned, beyng demaunded what hee would do in the premisses, he aūswered þt he would abiure and submitte him selfe, and there openly read hys MarginaliaEx Regist. Lond.abiuration, and subscribed it and deliuered it to the Byshop, which then did absolue hym: MarginaliaM. Bilney inioyned penaunce.and for his penaūce enioyned him, þt he should abyde in prisō, appoynted by the Cardinall, till he were by him released: and moreouer, the next day he should go before the processiō, in the Cathedrall Churche of S. Paule, bare headed, with a Fagot on his shoulder, and should stād before the preacher at Paules Crosse, all the Sermon tyme. Ex Regist. Lond.

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Here, for somuch as mention is made before, of v. letters or Epistles, 

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The actual number of letters that passed between Thomas Bilney and Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall is confused. What is clear is that Tunstall carefully saved Bilney's letters, and used them here in examining him in 1527.

whiche this good man wrote to Cutbert Tonstall Byshop of London, and by the sayd Byshop deliuered vnto the Registers, we thought good to inserte certeine thereof, such as coulde come to our handes. The Copie of which letters, as they were written by hym in Latine, because they are in the former Edition to bee sene and read in the same Latine, wherein hee wrote them, it shall suffice in this booke to to expresse the same onely in Englishe: saue onely the first Epistle, because it conteineth the whole story of his conuersion, and semeth more effectuall in the Latine, then in the Englishe, we therfore do exhibite the same both in Latine, and also in the Englishe, to satisfie as well the learned as the vnlearned. The Copye wherof here foloweth.

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Reuerendo in Christo patri D. Cutb. Tonstallo, Lond. Episcopo, To. Bilneus Salutem in Christo, cum omni subiectione tanto presuli debitam. 
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Bilney's attempt to persuade Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall to favour him may be compared with William Tyndale's efforts to gain Tunstall's patronage in the early 1520s.

HOc nomine, pater in Christo obseruande, longe beatiorem me puto, quod ad tuæ Paternitatis examinationem vocari me contigit. Ea enim eruditione es, ea vitæ integritate (quod omnes fatentur) vt ipsemet non possis (alioqui diuinarū in te dotiū estimator non admodū magnificus) quoties tibi succurrit, quanta tibi gratis fecerit deus, in illius laudes non erumpere, ac tecum in corde tacitus exclamare: Fecit mihi magna qui potens est, & sanctum nomen eius. MarginaliaLuke. 1.In talem nunc me iudicem incidisse gratulor, ac deo qui moderatur omnia, gratiam pro virili habeo. Et quanquam (testis est mihi deus) nullius in omnibus meis concionibus, erroris mihi conscius sum, nedum hæreseos aut factionis (quod calumniantur quidā, questus sui quám animarum lucri auidiores) tamen supra modum lætor, diuina (haud dubiè) benignitate prouisum esse, vt ob veritatis testimoniū, ad Tunstalli tribunal sisterer: qui, si quis alius, optimè nouit, nunquam defuturos Iannes ac Iambres, qui veritati resistant: nunquā defuturos Marginalia* Elymas magus. Act. 23.* Elymates, qui conentur subuertere vias domini rectas: denique nunquam defuturos Demetrios, Marginalia* Pithonissa. Act. 16.* Pythonissas, Balaamos, Marginalia* Nicolaitæ. Apoc. 2.* Nicolaitas, Caynos, Ismaeles, qui omnes, cum quæ sua sunt, non quæ Iesu Christi, auidissimè sectentur & quærant, qui fieri potest vt Christum sincerè ac simpliciter annunciatum perferant. Nam si populus semel in Christū pro se passum, solidè ac purè confidere occeperit, ruent mox in verè fidelium pectoribus, quæcuūque hactenus pro Christo amplexi sunt. Tunc intelligent non hic aut illic Christum esse, sed regnum dei in semetipsis esse. Tunc intelligent patrem neque in monte Samariæ, neque Hierosolymis adorandum esse, sed in omni loco, in spiritu & veritate. Quod si fit, actum de lucris suis putabunt bestiæ agri, quorum interest impleri illud MarginaliaEzech. 34.Ezechielis 34. Dispersæ sunt oues meæ, eo quod non esset pastor, & factæ sunt in deuorationem omnium bestiarum agri, & dispersæ sunt. Errauerunt greges mei in cunctis montibus, & in vniuerso colle excelso & super omnem faciem terræ: dispersi sunt greges mei, & non erat qui requireret: non erat, inquam, qui requireret. Imo si quis requirere velit, ac in caulas Christi, vnitatem dico fidei, errabundos reducere, mox insurgunt nomine Pastores, sed reuera lupi, qui non aliud de grege, quàm lac, lanam, pellem, quærunt, animas cum suas, tum gregis permittentes diabolo. Insurgunt inquam, ac Demetrij instar exclamant: MarginaliaPseudopastores, veri Demetrij.Hic hereticus vbique suadet auertitq̀ multā turbam, diceus, quod non sunt dij qui manibus fiunt.

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Hi sunt, hi (pater colende) sunt, qui sub pretextu persequendi Hereticos, ventris sui negotium agunt, inimici crucis Christi. Qui quiduis potius ferre possunt, quàm puram Christi pro peccatis nostris crucifixi, annunciationem. Hi sunt quibus Christus æternam minatur damnationē, cū ait: MarginaliaMath. 23.Væ vobis Scribæ & Pharisei, Hypocritæ, qui clauditis regnū cœlorū ante homines: vos enim non intratis, nec introeuntes sinitis intrare. Hi sunt qui, cū ipsi aliunde ascenderunt, alios intrare non sinūt. MarginaliaIohn. 10.Quod patet, quia si quis per me inquit Christus introierit, saluabitur, & ingredietur & egredietur, & pascua inueniet: & hi non inueniunt pascua (nunquā enim docent) & alios post se trahūt, vt non per Christū, qui solus est ostium per quod ad patrē peruenitur, sed aliunde per opuscula, quæ ouibus, tacito nonnunquam Christo, suadent, proponunt & iniungūt, ad suum potius questum, quā animarum salutem spectantes: hoc deteriores, quam illi qui super Christum fundamentum edificant, lignū, fœnum, stipulam. Marginalia1. Cor. 3.Isti fatentur se Christum scire, sed factis negant. Denique hi sunt medici illi, in quos mulier illa annis duodecim sanguinis profluuio vexata, omnia sua consumpserat, nec adiumenti quicquam senserat, sed deterius se habebat, donec vix tandem ad Christum venerat: quæ simulatq̀ fimbriam vestimenti eius in fide tetigerat, sic sanabatur, vt statim in corpore idipsum sentiret. MarginaliaLuke. 8.O mutationem dexteræ excelsi: quam & ego miser peccator non semel sensi, qui tamen antea quàm ad Christum venire potui, sic omnia mea insumpseram in ignaros medicos, indoctos confessionum auditores, vt parum mihi virium (alioqui natura imbecilli) reliquum fuerit, parum pecuniæ, ingenij item parum. Indicebant enim mihi ieiunia, vigilias, indulgentiarum, ac missarum emptiones, in quibus omnibus (vt nunc intelligo) sua potius quærebant, quàm salutem animæ meæ languentis. 

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The book Bilney was reading was the Novum Instrumentum, the first version of the New Testament that Erasmus issued in 1516 that printed the original Greek of scripture in parallel columns with the Latin Vulgate.

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Sed tandem de Iesu audiebam, nimirum tum, cum nouum Testamentum primum ab Erasmo æderetur. 

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The sentence that matters here is; 'Sed tandem de Iesu audiebam, nimirum tum, cum nouum Testamentum primum ad Erasmo aederetur'. It must be noted that Bilney did not use the word 'conuersio' to refer to the exhilarating effect that his reading had upon him. Foxe and Day's stress on Bilney's conversion here is meant to deflect readers' attention from his recantation.

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Quod cum ab eo latinius redditum accepi, latinitate potius quam verbo dei (quod tunc quidnā esset prorsus nesciebam) allectus, emebam, prouidentia (sine dubio) diuina, vt nunc interpretor. Incidi prima (vt memini) lectione, in hanc (o mihi suauissimam Pauli sententiam) 1. ad Timo. 1: Marginalia1. Tim. 1.Certus sermo & dignus quem modis omnibus amplectamur, quòd Christus Iesus venit in mundū vt peccatores saluos faceret, quorum primus sum ego. Hæc vna sententia, deo intus in corde meo (quod tunc fieri ignorabam) docente, sic exhilarauit pectus meum, prius peccatorum conscientia saucium ac penè desperabundum, vt mox visus sim mihi, nescio quantam intus tranquillitatem sentire, adeò quòd exultauerunt ossa humiliata. MarginaliaDiuina Bilnæi conuersio.Postea Scriptura cœpit mihi dulcior esse melle ac fauo: in qua paulatim didici omnes meos conatus, omnia ieiunia, omnes vigilias, omnes missarum & indulgentiarū redemptiones, quæ sine fiducia in Iesum (qui solus saluum facit populum suum a peccatis suis) fierent: didici inquam, hæc omnia nihil aliud fuisse, quam (quod ait Augustinus) celerem cursum extra viam: quàm perizomata illa ficulnea, quibus Adam & Eua verenda olim sua frustrà tegere conati sunt: nunquam prius tranquillati, quàm promissioni dei de Serpentis capite, per mulieris semen Christū, conterendo, credidissent: Nec ego prius a peccatorum aculeis ac morsibus sanari potui, quam a deo doctus essem illam lectionem, de qua loquitur Christus, Iohan. 3. MarginaliaIohan. 3.Sicut Moyses exaltauit Serpentē in deserto, ita exaltari oportet filium hominis, vt omnis qui credit in illum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam.

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Hanc
TTt.ij.
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