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1003 [1002]

K. Henry. 8. Letters of Tho. Bilney to Tonstall Bysh. of London.

submittyng all things vnto your fatherly iudgement, which is more quicke and sharpe, then that it can by any meanes be blynded, and so syncere, that it will not in any poynt seeke slaūder or discord. MarginaliaNotes and differences betwene the true and false church. Therfore I do confesse that I haue often bene afrayd, that Christ hath not bene purely preached now a long tyme. For who hath bene now a long season offended through hym? Who hath now this many yeares, suffred any persecution for the Gospels sake? Where is the sworde which he came to send vpon the earth? And finally, where are the rest of the syncere and vncorrupt fruites of the Gospell? which, because we haue not a long tyme sene, is it not to be feared that the tree which bringeth forth those fruites, hath now a long tyme bene wantyng in our region or countrey? much lesse is it to be beleued, that it hath bene nourished amongest vs. 

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In this section, Foxe used Bilney as his point of reference against the papal supremacy to answer Nicholas Sander, The rocke of the Churche wherein the primacy of S. Peter and of his successours the Bishops of Rome is proued out of Gods worde (Louvain: John Fowler, 1567, STC 21692). Sander had the audacity to dedicate his book to Archbishop Matthew Parker, and he attacked Thomas Cranmer's memory from the perspective of one who was in Oxford at the time of the archbishop's incarceration and burning there: 'And a little before his death, for a few hours of temporall life' Cranmer `sold his poore faith twise a day.' (sig. ****5r). The rocke of the Churche was one of several works that Sander wrote to attack Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury, following the `challenge sermons' that Jewel delivered at Paul's Cross and at Queen Elizabeth I's court starting in 1559. John Day inaugurated Jewel's controversy into print in 1560 when he issued The Trve Copies of the letters between the reuerend father in God Iohn Bisshop of Sarum and D. Cole, vpon occasion of a Sermon that the said Bishop preached before the Quenes Maiestie, and hir moste honorable Counsel. 1560 (STC 14613), fols. 4B-5A. Jewel invited English theologians to consider doctrinal matters that were crucial to the Reformation, and important again following Elizabeth's accession. He asked whether it could be established in ancient times that scripture, the early Councils or the writings of the ancient Fathers of the Church had taught that the Bishop of Rome was the head of the universal Church; whether the Bible might be read by the laity, and if in the sacrament after the words of Consecration whether the substance of bread and wine 'departeth awaye'. The resulting hard-hitting controversies involved not only Sander, but also Henry Cole and Thomas Harding.

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Haue we not seene all thinges quiet and peaceable a long tyme? But what sayth the Church? My griefe most bitter, is turned to peace. &c. MarginaliaEsay. 38. But the malignant church sayth: Peace, peace, and there is no peace: MarginaliaIere. 6. 8. but onely that whereof it is written: When the mighty armed man kepeth his gates, he possesseth all things in quiet. MarginaliaLuke. 11. But whē he seeth, that he shall be vanquished of a stronger then he him selfe is, he spoyleth and destroyeth all thinges. What now a dayes beginneth agayne to be attempted, I dare not say. God graunt vs grace that we do not refuse and reiect (if it be Christ) hym that commeth vnto vs, lest that we do feele that terrible iudgement agaynst vs: because (saith he) they haue not receiued the loue of truth, that they might be saued: therefore God will sende vpon them the blyndnesse of errour, that they shall geue credite vnto lyes. Marginalia2. Thess. 2.
Notes and argumentes prouing, that it is not the true words of God which hath bene preached in the popes Church.
O terrible sentence (Which God knoweth whether a great number haue not already incurred) that all they might be iudged which haue not geuen credite vnto the truth, but consented vnto iniquitie. The tyme shall come (sayeth he) when that they will not suffer the true doctrine to be preached. And what shall we then say of that learning, which hath now so long tyme raigned and triumphed, so that no man hath once opened hys mouth against it? Shall we thinke it sound doctrine? Truely iniquitie dyd neuer more abound, nor charitie was neuer so colde. And what should we say to be the cause therof? hath the cause bene for lacke of preachyng agaynst the vices of men, and exhortyng to charitie? That cannot be, for many learned and great Clerkes sufficiently can witnesse to the contrary. And yet all these notwithstandyng, we see the lyfe and maners of men do greatly degenerate from true Christianitie, and seeme to cre out in deede, that it is fulfilled in vs, which God in tymes past threatned by his Prophet Amos, saying: MarginaliaAmos. 8. Behold, the day shall come (sayth the Lord) that I wil send hunger vpon the earth, not hunger of bread, neyther thirst of water, but of hearing the worde of God, and the people shall be moued from sea to sea, and from the West vnto the East, and shall run about sekyng for the worde of God, but shall not find it. In those dayes the faire virgins and yong men shall perish for thirst. &c. But now to passe ouer many things, wherby I am moued to feare, that the word of God hath not bene purely preached, this is not the least argument, that they which come and are sent, and endeuor themselues to preach Christ truly, are euill spoken of for hys name, which is the rocke of offence and stumblyng blocke vnto them which stomble vppon hys worde, and do not beleue on hym, on whom they are builded.

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MarginaliaThis letter may wel aūswere to the note of D. Saunders booke, intituled: The rocke of the Church, fol. 14. & nota 5. But you will aske who are those men, and what is theyr doctrine? Truely I say, whosoeuer entreth in by the dore Christ, into the shepefold: which thyng all such shall do, as seeke nothyng els but the glory of God, and saluation of soules. Of all such it may be truly sayd, that whom the Lord sendeth, he speaketh the worde of God. And why so? Because he representeth the Angell of the church of Philadelphia, vnto whom Saint Iohn writeth, saying: MarginaliaApoc. 3. This sayeth he, which is holy and true, which hath the keyes of Dauid, which openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth. Behold, sayeth he (speakyng in the name of Christ which is the dore and dorekeper) I haue set before thee an open dore, that is to say, of the Scriptures opening thy senses, that thou shouldest vnderstand the scriptures, and that, because thou hast entred in by me which am the dore: MarginaliaIohn. 10. For whosoeuer entreth in by me which am the dore shal be saued, he shall go in and come out and finde pasture, for the dorekeper openeth the dore vnto hym, and the shepe heare hys voyce. MarginaliaWho entreth in by the doore, & who not. But contrarywise, they which haue not entred in by the dore, but haue climed in some other way, by ambition, auarice or desire of rule, they shall, euen in a moment go downe into hell, except they repent. And of them is the saying of Ieremy verified: MarginaliaLament. 1. All beautie is gone awaye from the daughter of Syon, because her Princes are become lyke rammes, not finding pasture. And why so? Because like theues and robbers they haue climed vp an other way, not beyng called nor sent. And what maruaile is it, if they do not preach, when as they are not sent, but run for lucre, seekyng their own glory, and not the glory of God and saluation of soules? And this is the roote of all mischiefe in the Church, that they are not sent inwardly of God. MarginaliaOutward calling by kings & princes in Christes ministrie aueyleth nothing with the inward calling of God. For without this inward callyng, it helpeth nothyng before God to be a hundreth tymes electe and consecrate, by a thousande Bulles, eyther by Pope, kyng, or Emperour. God beholdeth the harte, whose iudgementes are according to truth, how so euer we deceyue the iudgement of men for a tyme: which also at the last, shall see their abhomination. This (I say) is the originall of all mischiefe in the Churche, that we thrust in our selues into the charge of soules, whose saluation and the glory of God (which is to enter in by the dore) we do not thirst nor seeke for, but altogether our own lucre and profite.

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Hereupon it commeth, that we know not how to preach Christ purely: For how shoulde they preach Christ (sayth þe Apostle) except they be sent? for otherwise many theeues and robbers do preach hym, but with their lippes onely, for their hart is farre from him. MarginaliaThe roote of all mischiefe in the Church. Neither yet do we suffer those whiche do knowe how to preach, but persecute them, and goe about to oppresse the Scriptures now springyng, vnder þe pretence of godlines, fearing (as I suppose) least the Romaines should come and take our place. MarginaliaEx Prudentio.
Lay this letter agaynst Doct. Saūders booke aforesayd.
Ah thou wicked enemie Herode, why art thou afrayde that Christ shoulde come? he taketh not awaye mortall and earthly kingdomes, which geuethe heauenly kyngdomes. O blindnes, O our great blindnes, yea more then that of Egypt? of the which if there be any that would admonishe the people, by and by sayth MarginaliaExod. 5. Pharao: Moyses and Aron, why do ye cause the people to cease from their labours? and truely called their labours. Get you to your burdens: Lay more worke vppon them, & cause them to do it, that they harken not vnto lyes. MarginaliaThe persecutors of our tyme cōpared to Pharao Thus the people was dispersed throughout all the land of Egypt to gather vp chaffe: I say to gather vp chaffe. Who shall graunt vnto vs þt God shall say: I haue looked downe, and beholden the affliction of my people, whiche is in Ægypt, and haue heard their sighes, and am come downe to deliuer them. But whether hath thys zeale caryed me? whether after knowledge or not, I dare not say: it pertyneth to you, reuerent father, to iudge therupon.

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Now you do looke that I should shewe vnto you at large (as you write) how that they ought syncerely to preach, to the better edifying hereafter, of your flocke. Here I confesse I was afraide, that you had spoken in some derision, vntill that I well perceaued, that you had written it with your owne hand. Then agayne, I beganne to doubt for what intent Tonstall should require that of Bilney: an olde souldiour, of a younge begynner: the chiefe Pastor of London, of a poore sillie sheepe. But for what intent so euer you did it, I trust it was of a good mynde. And albeit that I am weake of bodye, yet through the grace of Christ geuē vnto me, I will attempt this matter, although it do farre passe my power: vnder the which burden, if I be oppressed, yet I will not deceiue you, for that I haue promised nothyng, but a prompt and ready will to do that which you haue cōmaunded.

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As touching that pertayneth to the preaching of the gospell, I would to God you would geue me leaue priuately to talke with you, that I might speake freely, that which I haue learned in the holy Scriptures for the consolation of my conscience: which if you will so do, I trust you shall not repent you. All thinges shall be submitted vnto your iudgement: who (except I be vtterly deceaued) will not breake the reede that is bruised, and put out the flaxe that is smokyng, MarginaliaEsa. 42. but rather, if I shall be founde in any errour (as in deede I am a man) you as spirituall, shall restore me thorough the spirite of gentlenes, considering your selfe, least that you also be tempted: For euery Byshop which is taken from among men, is ordayned for men, not violently to assault those which are ignoraunt and do erre, for he himself is compassed in with infirmitie, that he beyng not voyde of euils, should learne to haue compassion vpon other miserable people. MarginaliaHeb. 5.

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I desire you that you will remember me to morowe, that by your ayde, I may be brought before the tribunall seate of my Lord Cardinall, before whom I had rather stand, then before any of hys deputies.

¶ Yours Thomas Bilney.

¶ A letter of M. Bilney fruitfull and necessary for all Ministers to read. 
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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.

MarginaliaAn other letter of M. Bilney to Tonstall Bish. of London. MOst reuerēt father, salutatiōs in Christ. You haue required me to write vnto you at large, wherin men haue not preached as they ought, and how they should haue preached

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