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1181 [1181]

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

Hanc tandem sublimem lectionem, quam nullus docere potest nisi deus, qui hanc Petro reuelauit, vbi pro modulo gratiæ dei mihi datæ, gustare cepi, rogaui dominum vt augeret mihi fidem, ac tandem nihil magis optaui, quam vt sic reddita mihi læticia salutaris sui, spiritu me suo vtcunque confirmaret, vt virtute nonnulla donatus ex alto, docerem iniquos vias eius, quæ sunt misericordia & veritas, vt impij ad ipsum per me olim impium, conuerterentur. MarginaliaPsal. 24.Quod dum pro virili conor apud R. D. Cardinalem, ac tuam Paternitatem, blasphematur in me (hæc est vnica mihi in his tribulationibus fiducia) Christus, quem pro virili doceo, factum nobis a deo patre, sapientiam, iusticiam sanctificationem, redemptionem denique & satisfactionem. Marginalia1. Cor. 1.Qui factus est pro nobis peccatum, Id est, Hostia pro peccaro, vt nos efficeremur iusticia dei per illum. 2. Cor. 5. Marginalia2. Cor. 5.Qui factus est pro nobis maledictum, vt nos a maledicto legis redimeret. MarginaliaGalat. 2.Et qui non venit ad vocandum iustos, sed peccatores ad penitentiam: iustos inquam, qui se sanos putant & falso putant MarginaliaMath. 9.(Omnes enim peccauerunt & egent gloria dei, qua gratis remirtit credentibus peccata per redemptionem quæ est in Christo Iesu. Rom. 3.) MarginaliaRom. 3.quia omne genus hamanū sauciatum grauissime fuerat in eo, qui inter Hierusalem & Hierico incidit in latrones. Ideo pro virili doceo, vt omnes primum peccata sua agnoscant ac damnent, deinde esuriant ac sitiant iustitiam illā de qua Paulus loquitur. Rom. 3. MarginaliaRom. 3. MarginaliaIusticia dei.Iustitia dei per fidē Iesu Christi in omnes & super omnes qui credunt in eum. Non est enim distinctio: omnes enim peccauerūt & egent gloria dei, iustificātur autem gratis per gratiam ipsius, per redemptionem que est in Christo Iesu. Quam qui esuriunt ac sitiunt, haud dubie sic aliquando saturabuntur, quod neque esurient neque sitient in eternum. MarginaliaIustitia hominū.

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Se quoniam hanc esuriem ac sitim extinguere solet humanæ iusticiæ saturitas, quam parat potissimum opusculorum nostrorum electiciorum fiducia, (qualia sunt peregrinationes, veniarum redemptiones, cereorum oblationes, electa a nobis ieiunia, & interdum supersticiose, denique qualescunq̀ (vt vocant) voluntariæ deuotines, contra quæ loquitur Scriptura dei. Deut. 4. 12. MarginaliaDeut. 4. 12.non facies quod tibi rectū videtur, sed quod ego præcipio tibi, hoc tantum facito, nec addens nec minuens: ideo inquam huiusmodi opusculorum mentionem nonnunquam facio: non ea (deum testor) vnquam damnans, sed eorum abusum reprehendens, legitimumq̀ vsum paruillis manifestū faciens, hortans, ne sic his adhereant, vt his saturati (quod pleriq̀ faciuat) Christum fastidiant. In quo feliciter valeat Paternitas tua. Et hæc omnium summā. Si indixeris mihi vt singula dilatem, non recusabo, modo tempus mihi concesseris. Nam statim hoc facere non est harum, quoad corpus, virium: paratus semper, sicubi lapsus sucro, meliora doceri.

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Totus tuus T. Bilnæus.

¶ The same in Englishe.
¶ To the reuerent father in Christ Cuthbert, Bishop of London, Thomas Bilney wisheth health in Christ, with all submission due vnto such a Prelate.

MarginaliaA letter of M. Bilney, to Tonstall Byshop of London.IN this behalfe (most reuerēt father in Christ) I thinke my selfe most happy, þt it is my chaunce to be called to examinatiō before your Reuerence, MarginaliaCommenda-
on of Tonstalls leanyng.
for þt you are of such wisedome and learnyng, of such integritie of life (whiche all men do confesse to bee in you) that euen you your selfe can not chuse (if ye do not to lightly esteme Gods giftes in you) as often as you shall remember the great things whiche God hath done vnto you, but straight wayes secretly in your hart, to his high praise, say: he that is mightie hath done great thynges vnto me, and holy is hys name. I reioyce that I haue now happened vpō such a iudge, and with all my hart giue thankes vnto God, whiche ruleth all thinges.

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And albeit (God is my witnes) I know not my selfe gilty of any errour in my Sermons, neither of any heresie or sedition, which diuers do sclaunder me of, seekyng rather their owne luker & aduauntage, then the health of soules: notwithstandyng I do excedyngly reioyce, that it is so foresene by Gods diuine prouidence, that I shuld be brought before the tribunall seate of Tonstall, who knoweth aswell as any other, that there will neuer bee wantyng, Iannes and Iambres, MarginaliaYannes & Yambres were two of Pharaos priests, whiche resisted Moyses, but their names be not expressed in the 7. chap. of Exodus, but onely in 2. Tim. 3.whiche will resiste the truth: MarginaliaGod neuer buildeth a church, but the deuill hath some chappel by.that there shall neuer be lackyng some Marginalia* Elymas magus. Act. 13.* Elemates, which will go about to subuert the straight wayes of the Lord: and finally that some Marginalia* Pithonissa. Act. 16.Demetrius, * Pithonesse, Balaames, Marginalia* Nicolaites of Nicolaus. Apoc. 2.* Nicolaites, Cayns, and Ismaels, will be alwayes at hand, whiche will gredely hunte & seke after that, which perteineth vnto them selues, and not that which perteineth to Iesus Christ. How can it then bee, that they can suffer Christ to be truly and sincerely preached? For if the people begyn once wholy in euery place, to put their cōfidence in Christ, whiche was for them crucified, then straight wayes, that whiche they haue hetherto embrased in stede of Christ, shall vtterly decaye in the hartes of the faithfull. Then they shall vnderstand that Christ is not in this place or in that place, but the kyngdome of God to be in them selues. Then shall they plainly see that the father is not to be worshipped, neither in the mounte of Samaria, neither at Hierusalem, but in all places, in spirite & truth. Which thyng, if it come once to passe, the beastes of the fielde will thinke all their gayne and lucre lost. In whom the saying of Ezechiel is fulfilled? MarginaliaEzech. 34.My shepe are dispersed because they had no shepheard, and are deuoured of the beastes of the field, and strayed abrod: my flocke hath erred and wandred in euery mounteine, and vpon euery hygh hill, and is dispersed throughout all the earth, and there is no man whiche hath sought to gather them together: no, there was no man whiche once sought after them. But if any mā would seke to reduce those whiche were gone astray, into the fold of Christ, that is, the vnity of faith: by and by, there ryse vp certain agaynst hym, which are named Pa-stours, but in deede are wolues, whiche seke no other thyng of their flocke, but the milke, wolle, and felle, leauyng both their own soules, & the soules of theyr flocke, vnto the deuill.

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These men (I say) ryse vp like vnto Demetrius, criyng out, MarginaliaDemetrius the siluer smyth cryed out agaynst Paul. Act. 19.this hereticke disuadeth and seduceth much people euery where, saying: that they are not Gods, which are made with handes. MarginaliaPretensed priestes and prelates, vnder colour of persecuting heretickes, crucifie Christ, and treade down hys truth.These are they, these I say (most reuerent father) are they, whiche vnder the pretence of persecutyng heretickes, folowe their owne licencious lyfe: enemyes vnto the crosse of Christ, whiche can suffer and beare any thyng rather, then the sincere preachyng of Christ crucified for our sinnes. These are they, vnto whō Christ threatneth eternall dampnation, where hee sayth: Wo be vnto you Scribes, Phariseis, and hypocrites, whiche shut vp the kyngdome of heauen before men, and you your selues enter not in, neither suffer those whiche would enter, to come in. These are they whiche haue come in an other way, to the charge of soules, as it appeareth. For if any man (sayth Christ) come in by me, hee shall bee saued, and shall come in and goe out, and finde pasture. MarginaliaIohn. 10.These men do not finde pasture (for they neuer teache) & drawe others after them, that they should not enter by Christ, whiche alone is the doore, whereby we must come vnto the father: MarginaliaA wronge way to come to God by good works.but set before the people an other way, persuadyng them to come vnto God through good workes, oftentymes speakyng nothyng at all of Christ, thereby sekyng rather their owne gayne and lucre, then the saluation of soules: in this point being worse then they which vpon Christ beyng the foūdation, do builde wood, haye, and strawe. Marginalia1. Cor. 3.These men confesse that they know Christ, but by their dedes, they deny hym.

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MarginaliaFalse priests and prelates compared to the Phisitions, vpon whom the woman with the bloudy flyxe, spent all her goods, and was not helped.These are those Phisitions, vpon whom that woman which was xij. yeares vexed with þe bloudy flixe, had cōsumed all þt she had, & felt no helpe, but was still worse & worse, vntill such time as at þe last, she came vnto Christ, and after she had once touched the hemme of his vesture through fayth, she was so healed that by and by, she felte the same in her body. O mighty power of the mooste hyghest: whiche I also miserable sinner, haue often tasted & felt. MarginaliaBilney here speaketh by hys own experience.Which before that I could come vnto Christ, had euen likewise spent all that I had vpon those ignoraunt Phisitions, that is to say, vnlearned hearers of cōfession, so that there was but small force of strength left in me, (which of nature was but weake) small store of mony, & very litle witte or vnderstādyng: for they appoynted me fastynges, watchyng, biyng of pardons, and Masses: MarginaliaThe end and effect of the Popes all whiche thynges (as I now vnderstand) they sought rather their owne gayne, then the saluation of my sicke and languishyng soule.

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But at the last I heard speake of Iesus, euen then, when the new Testament was first set forth by Erasmus. 

Commentary  *  Close

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.

Which, when I vnderstode to bee eloquently done by hym, beyng allured rather for the Latine, then for the word of God (for at that tyme, I knew not what it mēt)

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