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519 [519]

¶ To the reuerent father in christ Cuthbert Bishop of London, Thomas Belney wysheth helth in christ with all submission dew vnto such a Prelate. 
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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.

IN this behalfe moste reuerent father in Christ, 

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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.

I thinke my selfe most happy that I haue happenid to be called to examination befor your reuerence, for that you are of such wisdom and learning, of such integrity of life which all men do confesse to be in you, that euen you your selfe can not chose (if ye do not to lightly esteme gods giftes in you) as often as you shall remember the great thinges which god hath don vnto you, straightwaies secretly in your hart to his high praise, say. He that is mighty hath don great things vnto me & holy is his name. Now I reioce that I haue happened vpon such a iudge, and with all my power giue thanks vnto god which ruleth all things. And albeit God is my witnes, I know not my selfe gilty of any error in my sermōds neither of any heresie or sedicon, which diuers to slaunder me of, seaking rather ther owne lucre and aduantage, then the helthe of soules. Notwithstanding I do excedingly reioce, that it is so forsene by the deuine prouidēce, that I shuld be brought befor the tribunall of Tūstal who knoweth aswell as any other, that ther would neuer be wanting, Iamnes and Mambreys, which will resist the trueth. That ther shall neuer be lacking, some Elemates, which will goo about to subuert the straight waies of the Lord. And finally that some Demetrius Pithonisse, Balaam, Nicolait, Caius, & Ismaells, would be alwayes at hand, which would gredely hunte & seake after that which perteineth vnto them selues, and not that which perteyneth to Ihesus Christ. How can it then be, þt they can suffer Christ to be trewly & sincerly preached? for if the people begin once wholy in euery place, to put ther confidence vpon Christ then straightwayes that which they haue hetherto embraced in stede of Christ, wold vtterly decai in the harts of the faithful. Then they shal vnderstand that christ is not in this place or in that place, but the kingdome of god to be in them selues. Then shall they plainely see þt the father is not to be worshipped, neither in þe mountes of Samaria, neither at Hierusalem, but in all places in spirit & truth, which thing if it come once to passe, these brute beasts will thinke all ther gaine and lucre lost. In whom þe saieng of Ezechiel is fulfilled. MarginaliaEzech. 34.My shepe are dispersed bycause they had no shephard, & are deuoured of the beastes of the filde, and straied abrode, my flocke haue erred & wandred in euery moūteyn, & vpon euery high hill, and are dispersed throughout all the earth, and ther is no man which hath sought to gather them together, no, ther was no mā which once sought after them. But if any man would seeke to reduce those which were gonne astray into the folde of Christ, that is, the vnity of faith: by & by, ther ryse vp certayn against him, which are named pastors, but in dede are wolues, which seke no nother thing of ther flock, but the milk wolle, and felle, leauing both ther own soules and the soules of their flocke vnto the deuell. These men I say rise vp like vnto Demetrius crieng out, this heretike diswadeth and seduceth much people euery wher, saieng: That they are not godes which are made wt handes, these are they, these I saye most reuerēt father ar they, which vnder the pretēce of persecuting heretikes, followe their owne licentious life. Enemies vnto the crosse of Christ, which can suffer and beare any thyng rather then the sincere preaching of Christ crucified for our sins.

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These are they, vnto whome Christ threatneth eternall dampnation, where he saith: wo be vnto you Scribes, Phariseis, and hypocrites, whiche shutt vp the kingdome of heauen before men, and you your selues enter not in, neither suffer those whiche woulde enter to come in, these are they which haue come in an other waye to the charge of soules, as it appeareth, for if any man sayeth Christe, come in by me, he shalbe saued, and shall come in and go out, and fynde pasture. And these menne doo not fynde pasture, for they neuer teache, and drawe others after theim that they shoulde not enter by Christ, whiche alone is the dore, wherby we must come vnto the father: but set before the people another waye, perswadynge thē to come vnto God through good workes, oftentimes speakyng nothyng at al of Christ, thereby sekyng rather their owne gayne and lucre, thē the saluatiō of soules. In this point beyng worse then they whiche vpon Christe being the foundation, do builde wood, haye, & strawe, these menne confesse that they knowe Christe, but by their deedes, they deny hym.

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These are those phisitions vpon whom that woman whiche was xii. yeare vexed with the bloudy flixe, had consumed all that she hadde and felt no helpe, but was styll worse, vntyll suche time as at the last she came vnto Christ, and had once touched the hēme of his vesture through fayth, she was so healed that by & by she felt þe same in her bodie. O mightie power of the mooste hyghest, whiche I also miserable sinner haue often tasted and felt, which before that I could come vnto Christ, had euen likewise spent all that I had vpon those ignorant physitions, that is to say: Vnlerned hearers of confession, that theire was but small force of strength left in me, which of nature was but weak, smal store of mony, and very litle witte or vnderstandynge, for they appoynted me fastinges, watchinge, bienge of pardones and

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