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Henry been driven to it even of necessity. In all other matters, where
necessity did not move him to contend, he was ready to grant all A.D. things for quietness' sake, as his most modest reason and answers did 1533. declare. For when More, disputing in a certain place upon the
sacrament, laid against him the authority of doctor Barnes, for the presence of the body and blood in the sacrament, he answered unto More and his companions, that he would promise under this condition, that if the sentence of Luther and Barnes might be holden as ratified, he would never speak more words of it:' for in that point they did both agree with him, that the sacrament was not to be worshipped; and that idolatry being taken away, he was content to permit every man to judge of the sacrament, as God should put into their hearts : for then there remained no more poison, that any man ought or might be afraid of. Wherefore, if they did agree in that which was the chief point of the sacrament, they should easily accord and agree in the rest.
Thus much he wrote, in the treatise entitled “The Exile," of tion.com- Barnes against More; which words of this most meek martyr of in dispu- Christ, if they would take place in the seditious divisions and factions of
these our days, with great ease and little labour men might be brought to a unity in this controversy; and much more concord and love should be in the Church, and much less offence given abroad than there is.
*But? I know not what cruel pestiferous fury hath secretly intermeddled herself in these matters, so corrupt in all things, that there is almost none so light a cause or occasion wherein one man can bear with another, if he dissent or disagree from his opinion. And while every man doth seek, even by the teeth, to defend his own quarrel, many men would rather seek to give occasion, than, in any case, seek to relent or remit. There are also some, who will seek to assuage the matter, but others will willingly take the bellows in hand to blow the fire, and but few there are that will seek to quench it. But if we had but a few like this John Frith, these factions, peradventure, would easily be accorded, or at least if the opinions could not be agreed, their minds, notwithstanding, might be united and joined. Albeit I do not think their opinions to be of so great force and effect that they should seem to be worthy of all these tragedies, for so much as they do not of necessity touch either the damnation or salvation of souls: and again, they are not so far discrepant amongst themselves, but that they may by reason be reconciled, so that there be some temperature of Frith's moderation adhibited thereunto, which may something impetrate and obtain on their part.
Those who judge the reason of the sacrament to be spiritually understood, do think well, and, peradventure, do draw near to Christ's mind and institution; but, notwithstanding, they be never a whit better men than they, who, following the letter together with them, do take away the superfluity of the ceremonies. They do take away transubstantiation from the sacrament; the like do the others also. They take away the sacrifice of the private mass; the same also do the others. These men put away all false worshipping; the others
(1) John Frith, speaking according to that time, showed the opinion of Luther might be
(2) See Edition 1503, pp. 500, 501.- ED.
also do not suffer it, but both parts do affirm the presence of Christ Henry in the mystical supper. Hitherto they both have agreed in these articles: what cause is there then of discord, when they both, as I said, do A.D. confess the presence of Christ, and disagree only upon the manner of the 1533. presence, which the one part do affirm to be real, and the other spiritual? But how much were it better, in my opinion, if that, by a common consent of either party, they would come to this point ; that
every man being contented with his own opinion, we should all simply agree upon presence of Christ, that, even thus, as touching the manner of his presence, all manner of disputation should cease for a time, and so, by little and little, all controversies be turned into truce and quietness ; until that time should breed more love and charity amongst men, or that love and charity should find a remedy for these controversies.
But this shall now suffice for this present, being more than I was determined to speak; and, brought hither by occasion of John Frith, I know not myself by what wind or weather, and peradventure somewhat too far passed into the German seas, now, casting the helm about, we will hold our course which we had begun, into England, and treat of the death and examination of John Frith.*
John Frith, after he had now sufficiently contended in his writings Prith with More, Rochester, and Rastal, More's son-in-law, was at last ed before carried to Lambeth, first before the bishop of Canterbury, and after the wards unto Croydon, before the bishop of Winchester, to plead his cause. Last of all, he was called before the bishops, in a common assembly at London, where he constantly defended himself, if he might have been heard.
The order of his judgment, with the manner of his examination and the articles which were objected against him, are comprised and set forth by himself in a letter written and sent unto his friends, whilst he was prisoner in the Tower.
A Letter of John Frith to his Friends, concerning his Troubles ;
wherein, after he had first with a brief preface saluted them, entering then into the matter, thus he writeth :
I doubt not, dear brethren, but that it doth some deal vex you, to see the one part to have all the words, and freely to speak what they list, and the others to be put to silence, and not be heard indifferently. But refer your matters unto God, who shortly shall judge after another fashion. In the mean time I have written unto you, as briefly as I may, what articles were objected against me, and what were the principal points of my condemnation, that ye might understand the matter certainly:
The whole matter of this my examination was comprehended in two special articles, that is to say, Of Purgatory, and Of the substance of the Sacrament.
And first of all, as touching purgatory, they inquired of me whether I did Purgabelieve there was any place to purge the spots and filth of the soul after this tory. life? But I said, that I thought there was no such place : for man, (said I) doth consist and is made only of two parts, that is to say, of the body and the soul, whereof the one is purged here in this world, by the cross of Christ, which he layeth upon every child that he receiveth ; as affliction, worldly oppression,
(1) This letter is to be seen in the end of that excellent and worthy work which he made in the Tower, concerning the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. [The title of this letter is 'A Boke made by Johan Fryth, prysonner in the Tour of London, answering unto M. Mores letter against the trealyse Johan Fryth made concerning the sacrament, &c. printed at London by Anthony Scoloker, 1548; and afterwards by R Jugge, 8vo. 1648. Ames Typographical Antiquities, by Dibdin, vol. iv. p. 197.-ED.)
Henry persecution, imprisonment, &c. The last of all, the reward of sin, which is VII. death, is laid upon us: but the soul is purged with the word of God, which we
receive through faith, to the salvation both of body and soul. Now if ye can A.D.
show me a third part of man besides the body and the soul, I will also grant 1533.
you the third place, which ye do call purgatory. But because ye cannot do this, I must also of necessity deny unto you the bishop of Rome's purgatory, Nevertheless I count neither part a necessary article of our faith, to be believed under pain of damnation, whether there be such a purgatory or no.
Secondly, They examined me touching the sacrament of the altar, whether it was the very body of Christ or no?
I answered, that I thought it was both Christ's body and also our body, as crament St. Paul teacheth us in 1 Cor. x. For in that it is made one bread of many body.
corns, it is called our body, which, being divers and many members, are associated and gathered together into one fellowship or body. Likewise of the wine, which is gathered of many clusters of grapes, and is made into one liquor. But the same bread again, in that it is broken, is the body of Christ; declaring his body to be broken and delivered unto death, to redeem us from our iniquities.
Furthermore, in that the sacrament is distributed, it is Christ's body, signifying that as verily as the sacrament is distributed unto us, so verily are Christ's body and the fruit of his passion distributed unto all faithful people.
In that it is received, it is Christ's body, signifying that as verily as the outward man receiveth the sacrament with his teeth and mouth, so verily doth the inward man, through faith, receive Christ's body and the fruit of his passion, and is as sure of it as of the bread which he eateth.
Well (said they) dost thou not think that his very natural body, flesh, blood, and bone, is really contained under the sacrament, and there present without all figure or similitude ? No (said I), I do not so think : notwithstanding I would not that any should count, that I make my saying (which is the negative) any article of faith. For even as I say, that you ought not to make any necessary article of the faith of your part (which is the affirmative), so I say again, that we make no necessary article of the faith of our part, but leave it indifferent for all men to judge therein, as God shall open their hearts, and no side to condemn or despise the other, but to nourish in all things brotherly love; and one to bear another's infirmity.
After this they alleged the place of St. Augustine, where he saith, “He was carried in his own hands.''
Whereunto I answered, that St. Augustine was a plain interpreter of himplace of self; for he hath in another place, 'He was carried as it were in his own hands :'2 gustine which is a phrase of speech not of one that doth simply affirm, but only of one expound- expressing a thing by a similitude. And albeit that St. Augustine had not thus
expounded himself, yet, writing unto Boniface, he doth plainly admonish all men, that the sacraments do represent and signify those things whereof they are sacraments, and many times even of the similitudes of the things themselves, they do take their names. And therefore, according to this rule, it may be said, he was borne in his own hands, when he bare in his hands the sacrament of his body and blood.
Then they alleged a place of Chrysostome, which, at the first blush, may seem to make much for them, who, in a certain Homily upon the Supper, writeth thus : “Dost thou see bread and wine? Do they depart from thee into the draught, as other meats do? No, God forbid ! for as in wax, when it cometh to the fire, nothing of the substance remaineth or abideth; so likewise think
that the mysteries are consumed by the substance of the body,' &c. The place
These words I expounded by the words of the same doctor, who, in another sostome Homily, saith on this manner; "The inward eyes,' saith he, 'as soon as they answered. see the bread, they flee over all creatures, and do not think of the bread that is Chryso-baked by the baker, but of the bread of everlasting life, which is signified by stomeen the mystical bread. Now confer these places together, and you shall perceive himself. that the last expoundeth the first plainly. For he saith, Dost thou see the bread
and wine? I answer by the second, Nay. For the inward eyes, as soon as they see the bread, do pass over all creatures, and do not any longer think upon the bread, but upon him that is signified by the bread. And after this manner (1) · Ferabatur in manibus propriis.'
(2) ' Ferabatur tanquam in manibus suis.'
he seeth it, and again he seeth it not: for as he seeth it with his outward and Henry carnal eyes, so with his inward eyes he seeth it not; that is to say, regardeth VII. not the bread, or thinketh not upon it, but is otherwise occupied. Even as
A.D. when we play or do any thing else negligently, we commonly are wont to say, 1533. we see not what we do; not that indeed we do not see that which we go about, but because our mind is fixed on some other thing, and doth not attend unto that which the eyes do see.
In like manner may it be answered unto that which followeth; “Do they avoid from thee,' saith he, 'into the draught as other meats do? I will not so say, for other meats, passing through the bowels, after they have of themselves given nourishment unto the body, be voided into the draught: but this is a spiritual meat, which is received by faith, and nourisheth both body and soul unto everlasting life, neither is it at any time avoided as other meats are.
And as before I said that the external eyes do behold the bread, which the inward eyes, being otherwise occupied, do not behold or think upon, even so our outward man doth digest the bread, and void it into the draught; but the inward man doth neither regard nor think upon it, but thinketh upon the thing itself that is signified by that bread. And therefore Chrysostome,' a little before the words which they alleged, saith ; 'Lift up your minds and hearts :' whereby he admonisheth us to look upon and consider those heavenly things which are represented and signified by the bread and wine, and not to mark the bread and wine itself.
Here they said, that was not Chrysostome's mind; but that by this example he declareth that there remained no bread nor wine. I answered, that was false : for the example that he taketh tendeth to no other purpose, but to call away our spiritual eyes from the beholding of visible things, and to transport them another way, as if the things which are seen were of no force. Therefore he draweth away our mind from the consideration of these things, and fixeth it Mysteries upon him who is signified unto us by the same. The very words which follow, to be seen sufficiently declare this to be the true meaning of the author, where he commandeth us to consider all things with our inward eyes; that is to say, eyes. spiritually.
But whether Chrysostome's words do tend either to this or that sense, yet do Chrysothey indifferently make on our part against our adversaries, which way soever stome we do understand them. For if he thought that the bread and wine do remain, the powe have no further to travel : but if he meant contrariwise, that they do not pish docremain, but that the natures of the bread and wine are altered, then are the fine of bread and wine falsely named sacraments and mysteries, which can be said in ment. no place to be in the nature of things: for that which is in no place, how can The obit be a sacrament, or supply the room of a mystery?. Finally, if he speak only Chrysoof the outward forms and shapes (as we call them), it is most certain that they stome do continually remain, and that by the substance of the body they are not con
by a disumed in any place: wherefore it must necessarily follow that the words of Chrysostome be to be understood in such sense as I have declared.
Here peradventure many would marvel,” that forasmuch as the matter touching the substance of the sacrament, is separate from the articles of faith, and bindeth no man of necessity either unto salvation or damnation, whether he believe it or not, but rather may be left indifferently unto all men, freely to judge either on the one part or on the other, according to his own mind, so that neither part do contemn or despise the other, but that all love and charity be still holden and kept in this dissension of opinions: what then is the cause, why I would therefore so willingly suffer death? The cause why I die is this : for that I cannot agree with the divines and other head prelates, that it should be necessarily determined to be an article of faith, and that we should believe, under pain of damnation, the substance of the bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the form and shape nly not being changed. Which thing if it were most true (as they shall never be able to prove it by any authority of the Scripture or doctors), yet shall they not
(1) The argument from Chrysostome : the belly of man cannot avoid any part of Christ's body: the belly of man avoideth some part of every thing that the mouth receiveth: ergo, the mouth of man receiveth not the body of Christ.
(2) A question is here asked, with the cause declared, why that, seeing the matter of the sacra. ment itself importeth neither salvation nor damnation, Frith offereth himself to death for the
so bring to pass, that that doctrine, were it ever so trie, should be holden for VIII. a necessary article of faith. For there are many things, both in the Scriptures A.D.
and other places, which we are not bound of necessity to believe as an article of 1533.
faith. So it is true, that I was a prisoner and in bonds when I wrote these things, and yet, for all that, I will not hold it as an article of faith,' but that you may, without danger of damnation, either believe it, or think the contrary.
But as touching the cause why I cannot affirm the doctrine of transubstantia
tion, divers reasons do lead me thereunto: first, for that I do plainly see it to why tran
be false and vain, and not to be grounded upon any reason, either of the Scriptiation is tures, or of approved doctors. Secondly, for that by my example I would not not to be be an author unto Christians to admit any thing as a matter of faith, more than the necessary points of their creed, wherein the
whole sum of our salvation doth consist, especially such things, the belief whereof hath no certain argument of authority or reason. I added moreover, that their church (as they call it) hath no such power and authority, that it either ought or may bind us, under the peril of our souls, to the believing of any such articles. Thirdly, because I will not, for the favour of our divines or priests, be prejudicial in this point unto so many nations, of Germans, Helvetians, and others, which, altogether rejecting the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, are all of the same opinion that I am, as well those that take Luther's part, as those that hold with Ecolampadius. Which things standing in this case, I suppose there is no man of any upright conscience, who will not allow the reason of my death, which I am put unto for this only cause, that I do not think transubstantiation, although it were true indeed, to be established for an article of faith.
And thus much hitherto as touching the articles and whole disputation of John Frith, which was done with all moderation and uprightness. But when no reason would prevail against the force and cruelty of these furious foes, on the 20th day of June, A.D. 1533, he was brought before the bishops of London, Winchester, and Lincoln, who, sitting in St. Paul's, on Friday the 20th day of June, ministered certain interrogatories upon the sacrament of the supper, and purgatory, unto the said Frith, as is above declared ; to which when he had answered, and showed his mind in form and effect, as by his own
words above doth appear, he afterwards subscribed to his answers The sub- with his own hand, in these words :2 “ I Frith, thus do think ; and
as I think, so have I said, written, taught, and affirmed, and in my books have published."
But when Frith by no means could be persuaded to recant these articles aforesaid, neither be brought to believe that the sacrament is
an article of faith, but said, “Fiat judicium et justitia :” he was conFrith con- demned by the bishop of London to be burned, and sentence given
against him; the tenor whereof here ensueth.
scription of John Frith.
The Sentence given against John Frith.
(1) This is to be weighed with the time when Frith wrote.