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the town ; Drumme, who afterwards fell away and forsook the truth; Henry Thomas Lawney, chaplain of the house, prisoner with John Frith.
To these join also Taverner of Boston, the good musician, besides A.D. many others called also out of other places, most picked young men, of grave judgment and sharp wits; who, conferring together upon the abuses of religion, being at that time crept into the church, were therefore accused of heresy unto the cardinal, and cast into a prison, within a deep cave under the ground of the same college, where their salt fish was laid ; so that, through the filthy stench thereof, they were all infected, and certain of them, taking their death in the same prison, shortly upon the same being taken out of the prison into their chambers, there deceased.
The troublers and examiners of these good men, were these : Dr. London; Dr. Higdon, dean of the said college ; and Dr. Cottesford, commissary.
Master Clerk, Master Sumner, and sir Bayly, eating nothing but salt fish from February to the midst of August, died all three together within the compass
of one week. Master Bettes, a witty man, having no books found in his chamber, through entreaty and surety got out of prison, and so remaining a space in the college, at last slipped away to Cambridge, and afterwards was chaplain to queen Anne, and in great favour with her.
Taverner, although he was accused and suspected for hiding of Clerk's books under the boards in his school, yet the cardinal, for his music, excused him, saying that he was but a musician: and so he escaped.
After the death of these men, John Frith with others, by the cardinal's letter, who sent word that he would not have them so straitly handled, were dismissed out of prison, upon condition not to pass above ten miles out of Oxford ; which Frith, after hearing of the examination of Dalabera and Garret, who bare then faggots, went over the sea, and after two years he came over for exhibition of the prior of Reading (as is thought), and had the prior over with him.
Being at Reading, it happened that he was there taken for a vaga- John bond, and brought to examination ; where the simple man, who could seri in not craftily enough colour himself, was set in the stocks. After he stocks at had sitten there a long time, and was almost pined with hunger, and would not, for all that, declare what he was, at last he desired that the schoolmaster of the town might be brought to him, who at that Leonard time was one Leonard Cox, a man very well learned. As soon as schoolhe came unto him, Frith, by and by, began in the Latin tongue to there. bewail his captivity.
The schoolmaster, by and by, being overcome with his eloquence, did not only take pity and compassion upon him, but also began to love and embrace such an excellent wit and disposition unlooked for, especially in such a state and misery. Afterwards, conferring more together upon many things, as touching the universities, schools, and tongues, they fell from the Latin into the Greek, wherein Frith did so inflame the love of that schoolmaster towards him, that he brought
(1) This Taverner repented him very much that he had made songs to popish ditties, in the time of his blindness,
(2) of this Dalaber, read more in the story of Thomas Garret.
persecutor of Frith.
The occasion of Frith's
Henry him into a marvellous admiration, especially when the schoolmaster
heard him so promptly by heart rehearse Homer's verses out of his A.D. first book of the Iliad ; whereupon the schoolmaster went with all 1533.
speed unto the magistrates, grievously complaining of the injury which they did show unto so excellent and innocent a young man.
Thus Frith, through the help of the schoolmaster, was freely disFrith,
missed out of the stocks, and set at liberty without punishment. his help. Albeit this his safety continued not long, through the great hatred out of the and deadly pursuit of sir Thomas More, who, at that time being
. Sir Tho
chancellor of England, persecuted him both by land and sea, besetmas More ting all the ways and havens, yea, and promising great rewards, if a deadly
any man could bring him any news or tidings of him.
Thus Frith, being on every part beset with troubles, not knowing which
way to turn him, seeketh for some place to hide him in. Thus fleeting from one place to another, and often changing both his garments and place, yet could he be in safety in no place ; no not long amongst his friends ; so that at last, being traitorously taken (as ye shall after hear), he was sent unto the Tower of London, where he had many conflicts with the bishops, but especially in writing with sir Thomas More. The first occasion of his writing was this :
Upon a time he had communication with a certain old familiar friend writing of his, touching the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; the
whole effect of which disputation consisted specially in these four points :
I. First, That the matter of the sacrament is no necessary article of faith under pain of damnation.
II. Secondly, That forasmuch as Christ's natural body in like condition hath all properties of our body, sin only except, it cannot be, neither is it agreeable unto reason, that he should be in two places or more at once, contrary to the nature of our body.
III. Moreover, thirdly, it shall not seem meet or necessary, that we should in this place understand Christ's words according to the literal sense, but rather according to the order and phrase of speech, comparing phrase with phrase, according to the analogy of the Scripture.
IV. Last of all, how that it ought to be received according to the true and right institution of Christ, albeit that the order which at this time is crept into the church, and is used now-a-days by the priests, do never so much differ from it.
And forasmuch as the treatise of this disputation seemed some
what long, his friend desired him that such things as he had reasoned wportinine upon he would briefly commit unto writing, and give unto him for
the help of his memory. Frith, albeit he was unwilling, and not ignorant how dangerous a thing it was to enter into such a contentious matter, at last, notwithstanding, he, being overcome by the entreaty of his friend, rather followed his will, than looked to his own safeguard.
There was at that time in London a tailor named William Holt, who, feigning a great friendship towards this party, instantly required of him to give him license to read over that same writing of Frith's; which when he unadvisedly did, the other, by and by, carried it unto More, being then chancellor: which thing, afterwards, was occasion of great trouble, and also of death, unto the said Frith ; for More, having not only gotten a copy of his book of this sycophant, but
The occasion of Frith's sacrament.
also two other copies, which at the same time, in a manner, were sent him by other promoters, he whetted his wits, and called his spirits together as much as he might, meaning to refute his opinion A.D. by a contrary book.
The Sum of John Frith's Book of the Sacrament. This in a manner was the whole sum of the reasons of Frith's book; first, to declare the pope's belief of the sacrament to be no necessary article of our faith; that is to say, that it is no article of our faith necessary to be believed under pain of damnation, that the sacrament should be the natural body of Christ: which he thus proveth; for many so believe, and yet in so believing the sacrament to be the natural body, are not thereby saved, but receive it to their damnation.
Again, in believing the sacrament to be the natural body, yet that natural presence of his body in the bread, is not that which saveth us, but his presence in our hearts by faith. And likewise, the not believing of his bodily presence Not bein the sacrament, is not the thing that shall damn us, but the absence of him lieving in out of our heart, through unbelief. And if it be objected, that it is necessary poral preto believe God's word under pain of damnation : to that he answereth that the sence of word taken in the right sense, as Christ meant, maintaineth no such bodily no dampresence as the pope's church doth teach, but rather a sacramental presence. nation. And that, saith he, may be further confirmed thus :
pain of damnation to believe this point.
damnation. The first part, saith he, is evident of itself; for how could they believe that which they never heard nor saw ?
The second part, saith he, appeareth plainly by St. Augustine, writing to Dardanus, and also by a hundred places more ; neither is there any thing that he doth more often inculcate than this, that the same faith that saved our fathers, saveth us also. And therefore upon the truth of these two parts, thus proved, must the conclusion, saith he, needs follow.
Another Argument. None of the old fathers before Christ's incarnation, did eat Christ corporally in their signs, but only mystically and spiritually, and were saved.
All we do eat Christ even as they did, and are saved as they were.
Ergo, None of us do eat Christ corporally, but mystically and spiritually in our signs, as they did.
For the probation of the first part, Frith, proceeding in his discourse, declareth as follows:
The ancient fathers, before Christ's incarnation, did never believe any such point of this gross and carnal eating of Christ's body; and yet, notwithstanding, they did eat him spiritually, and were saved; as Adam, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, and other godly Israelites besides. All which, saith he, did eat the body of Christ, and did drink his blood as we do. But this eating and drinking of theirs was spiritual, pertaining only to faith, and not to the teeth : “For they were all under the cloud, and drank of the rock which followed them; this rock was Christ,'' who was promised them to come into the world. And this promise was first made unto Adam, when it was said unto the serpent, • I will put hatred between thee and the woman, between her seed and thy seed,'&c. And afterwards again unto Abraham : • In thy seed (1) I Cor. x.
(2) Gen. iii.
The fathers ate the same
Henry shall all people be blessed,': &c.: adding also the sacrament of circumcision, VII. which was called the covenant; not because it was so indeed, but because it A.D.
was a sign and a token of the covenant made between God and Abraham ; 1533.
admonishing us thereby, how we should judge and think touching the sacra
ment of his body and blood; to wit, that albeit it be called the body of Christ, Bread is yet we should properly understand thereby the fruit of our justification, which body, as
plentifully floweth unto all the faithful by his most healthful body and blood. the sacra- Likewise the same promise was made unto Moses, the most meek and gentle ment of captain of the Israelites, who did not only himself believe upon Christ, who
was so often promised, but also did prefigurate him by divers means, both by called the the manna which came down from heaven, and also by the water which issued covenant.
out of the rock, for the refreshing of the bodies of his people. The water Neither is it to be doubted, but that both manna and this water had a pro
phetical mystery in them, declaring the very self-same thing then, which the rock, and bread and bread and the wine do now declare unto us in the sacrament. For this saith St. wine, fi Augustine, • Whosoever did understand Christ in the manna, did eat the spiritual
food that we do. But they, who by that manna sought only to fill their bellies, body. did eat thereof, and are dead.' So, likewise, saith he of the drink: • For the
rock was Christ.? And, by and by after, he inferreth thus: Moses did eat manna, and Phinehas also; and many others also did eat thereof, who pleased God, and are not dead. Why? because they did understand the visible meat spiritually. They did spiritually hunger, and did spiritually taste of it, that they might be spiritually satisfied. They all did eat the same spiritual meat,
and all did drink the same spiritual drink : all one spiritual thing, but not all spiritual, one corporal matter (for they did eat manna, and we another thing), but the
self-same spiritual thing that we do; and although they drank the same corporal spiritual drink that we do, yet they drank one thing, and we another: which food that nevertheless signified all one thing in spiritual effect. How did they drink all
one thing?. The apostle answereth, ‘of the spiritual rock which followed them, for the rock was Christ.' And Bede also, adding these words, saith, “Behold the signs are altered, and yet the faith remaineth one.' Thereby a man may perceive that the manna which came down from heaven, was the same unto them, that our sacrament is unto us; and that by either of them is signified, that the body of Christ came down from heaven; and yet, notwithstanding, never any of them said that manna was the very body of Messias; as our sacra
mental bread is not indeed the body of Christ, but a mystical representation of Manna, the same. For like as the manna which came down from heaven, and the
bread which is received in the supper, do nourish the body, even so the body body of
of Christ coming down from heaven, and being given for us, doth quicken up the spirits of the believers unto life everlasting. Then, if the salvation of both people be alike, and their faith also one, there is no cause why we should add transubstantiation unto our sacrament, more than they believed their manna to be altered and changed. Moreover because they are named sacraments, even by the signification of the name they must needs be signs of things, or
else of necessity they can be no sacraments. Objection. But some may here object and say, If only faith, both unto them and also
unto us, be sufficient for salvation, what need then any sacraments to be instituted ? He answered, that there are three causes why sacraments are insti
tuted. The first St. Augustine declareth in these words, writing against why sa Faustus: “Men,' saith he, cannot be knit together into one name of religion, craments be it true or be it false, except they be knit by the society of signs and visible
sacraments, the power whereof doth wonderfully prevail, in so much that such as contemn them are wicked: for that is wickedly contemned, without which godliness cannot be made perfect, &c. Another cause is, that they should be helpers to graft and plant faith in our hearts, and for the confirmation of God's promises. But this use of sacraments many are yet ignorant of, and
more there be who do preposterously judge of the same, taking the signs for shipped. the thing itself, and worshipping the same: even by like reason in a manner,
as if a man would take the bush that hangeth at the tavern door, and suck it
(2) 1 Cor. x.
Answer. Three causes
Sacraments not to be wor
And these in a manner are the principal points of Frith's book.
When More (as is aforesaid) had gotten a copy of this treatise, he sharpened his pen all that he might, to make answer unto this A. D. young man (for so he calleth him throughout his whole book), but in 1533. such sort, that when the book was once set forth, and showed unto More the world, then he endeavoured himself, all that he might, to keep it from printing : peradventure lest that any copy thereof should come Frith. unto Frith's hands. But notwithstanding, when at last Frith had Frith angotten a copy thereof, by means of his friends, he answered him out where of the prison, omitting nothing that any man could desire to the
perfect and absolute handling of the matter. And as it were a great labour, so do I think it not much necessary to repeat all his reasons and arguments, or the testimonies which he had gathered out of the doctors; especially forasmuch as Cranmer, the archbishop of Canter- Cranmer bury, in his apology against the bishop of Winchester, seemed to the book have collected them abundantly, gathering the principal and chiefest of Frith. helps from thence that he leaned unto against the other; and I doubt much whether the archbishop ever gave any more credit unto any author of that doctrine, than unto this aforesaid Frith.
What dexterity of wit was in him, and excellency of doctrine, it may appear not only by his books which he wrote of the sacrament, but also in those which he entitled Of Purgatory. In that quarrel he withstood the violence of three most obstinate enemies ; that is to say, of Rochester, More, and Rastal, whereof the one by the help der Mare
, of the doctors, the other by wresting of the Scripture, and the third tal by the help of natural philosophy, had conspired against him. But he, as a Hercules, fighting not against two only, but even with them Frith conall three at once, did so overthrow and confound them, that he con- Rastal. verted Rastal to his part.
Besides all these commendations of this young man, there was also in him a friendly and prudent moderation in uttering of the truth, joined with a learned godliness; which virtue hath always so much prevailed in the church of Christ, that, without it, all other good gifts of knowledge, be they ever so great, cannot greatly profit, but oftentimes do very much hurt. And would to God that all things, in all places, were so free from all kind of dissension, that there were no mention made amongst Christians of Zuinglians and Lutherans, when neither Zuinglius nor Luther died for us; but that we might be all one in Christ. Neither do I think that any thing more grievous could happen unto those worthy men, than for their names so to be abused to sects and factions, who so greatly withstood and strove against all factions. Neither do I here discourse which part came nearest unto the truth, nor so rashly intermeddle in this matter, that I will detract any thing from either part, but rather wish of God I might join either part unto the other.
But now, forasmuch as we treat of the story of John Frith, I can- Prudent not choose, but must needs earnestly and heartily embrace the pru- ance and dent and godly moderation which was in that man, who, maintaining his quarrel of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, no less godly than Frith. learnedly (and so as no man in a manner had done it more learnedly and pithily), yet he did it so moderately, without any contention, that he would never seem to strive against the Papists, except he had