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554 [498]

Actes and Monuments of the Churche.

both by lande and sea, besettyng al the wayes and hauens, yea and promysing great rewardes, if anie man coulde bryng him any newes or tydinges of hym. Thus Fryth beyng on euery parte besett with troubles, not knowing whiche waye to tourne hym, seketh for some place to hyde hym in, and then to flye from one place to an other, often chaunging both his garmentes and place, and could not be in sauetie in no place, no not long amongest his frendes. It happened by chaunce he beyng at Reading, he was there taken for a vacabound, and brought to examination, where as the symple man, whiche coulde not craftely enough colour hym self, pretēded vnto the magistrates þt he was not þe man, but an other persone, wherupō he was set in þe stocks, where after he had sytten a long tyme, and was almoste consumed with hunger, and would not for all that declare what he was, at the last he desired that the scholemaister of þe town should be brought to hym, which at that tyme was one Leonard Coxe, a man very well learned. 

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There may be more to the story here than Foxe relates. Although not mentioned in S F Ryle's biography of Cox in the ODNB (but according to Frederic Carpenter), Cox (Coxes or Cockes) was a friend of both Erasmus and Melanchthon. In 1524, he was the schoolmaster of Reading Grammar School and was much noted for his The Arte or Crafte of Rhethoryck which was the first such book published in England in the vernacular. Much of it is a translation of Melanchthon's Institutiones Rhetoricae (1521). While Ryle notes its publication in 1530, Carpenter notes that this was a second edition. See Frederic Ives Carpenter, 'Leonard Cox and the First English Rhetoric', in Modern Language Notes 13:5 (May 1898), pp.146-7 and S F Ryle, 'Cox, Leonard', in ODNB, 13, pp.854-6].

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As sone as he came vnto hym, Fryth by and by began in the Latten tongue to bewayle his captiuitie.

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MarginaliaLeonard Cox schole maister of Reading.The scholemaister by and by being ouercom with his eloquence, did not only take pitie and compassion vpon him, but also began to loue and embrace suche an excellent wytte and disposition, vnknowen vnto hym in suche a state and myserie. Afterward, they conferryng together vpon many thynges, as touching the vniuersities, scholes, and tongues, they fell from the Lattin tongue into the Greke, wherein Fryth did so inflame the loue of that schole maister towardes hym, that he broughte hym into a maruelous admiration, especially whē as the scholemaister heard hym so promptlye by hart, reherce Homers verses, out of his first booke of Iliades 

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The earliest translation of Homer's Iliad into English was in 1598 by the dramatist George Chapman.

, wherupon the scholemaister went with all spede vnto the magistrates, greuously complaining of þe iniury which they did vnto so an excellent and innocente a younge man. Thus, Fryth through the helpe of the scholemaister, was freely dymitted out of the stockes, and sette at lybertie without punishement. Albeit this his sauetie continued not long, the crosse followyng him in euery place, for afterwarde beynge trayterouslye taken 
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This would be October 1532. Frith appears to have been preaching at Bow Lane.

, he was sent vnto the tower of London, whereas he had many conflictes with the Bishops, but specially in writing with Syr Thomas More. 
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Foxe does not go into the chain of events very deeply at this point which is unfortunate as the events are quite interesting. Simon Fish, in exile in Antwerp in 1529, had written a vehemently anti-clerical short pamphlet entitled Supplication of the Beggars in which he disputed the existence of purgatory (from a 'sola scriptura' perspective) and, consequently, the validity of papal indulgences as he construes them to be. He also made the argument that the clergy had usurped certain temporal powers. Such an argument as this was, of course, calculated to appeal to a king who was, at the time, vying with papal obstructionism over his effort to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In October 1529, Thomas More responded to the pamphlet with his The Supplycatyon of Soulys (in two books) defending the doctrine of purgatory with all the wit and logic at his command. It was on this point of purgatorial doctrine that Frith comes into the picture, determined to undertake an answer to More's book on Fish's behalf and in defence of his anti-purgatorial theology.

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The first occasion of his wryting was this. 
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Frith had published two books in 1529. One of these was entitled Patrick's Places - the translation of a short treatise of the Scottish reformer, Patrick Hamilton, covering such issues as law, gospel, charity and good works. The other work of that year was the much more important The Revelation of Antichrist written under the pseudonym Richard Brightwell. This treatise consists of an introductory letter and three sections dedicated to doctrine, of which only the first section - 'An Epistle unto the Christian Reader' - is original. The other two sections - 'The Revelation of Antichrist' and 'Antithesis between Christ and the Pope' - are respectively translations of Luther's Concerning Antichrist (1521) and Melanchthon's Suffering of Christ and Antichrist (1521). Frith, in this way, presented the doctrine of 'sola fide' to the English reading public. In 1531, while still in exile, Frith wrote two considerable more original treatises. The lesser of the two is a commentary on the last will of the executed heretic William Tracy, entitled Tracy's Testament. The greater work - entitled A disputation of Purgatory - is an attack on the traditional Catholic orthodoxy as presented in three other recent English works. These are John Rastell's rationalist account New Book of Purgatory (1530), Thomas More's scriptural account The Supplycatyon of Soulys (1529) and Bishop John Fisher's patristic account Confutation of Lutheran Assertions (1523). These are discussed in Carl R Trueman, Luther's Legacy: Salvation and English Reformers, 1525-1556 (Oxford, 1994), pp.121-56.

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Vpon a tyme he hadd communication with a certaine olde familier friende of his, touchyng the sacrament of the body and bloud of Christ, the whole effect of whiche disputation, consysted specially in these foure poyntes.

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First, that the matter oof the sacramēt is no necessary article of faith vnder pain of dānatiō

Secondly, that for so muche as Christes na-turall body, by lyke condicion, hath all properties of our body, synne only excepte, it can not be, neyther is it agreable vnto reason, that he should be in two places or more at once contrary to the nature of our body.

Moreouer it shall not seame mete or necessarie, that we should in this place vnderstande Christes wordes according to the litterall sence, but rather according to the order and phrase of speche, comparing phrase with phrase, according to þe analogie of the scripture. Last of al, howe that it ought to be receiued according to the true and naturall institution of Christe, albeit that the order whiche is presently crept into the churche, and is vsed nowe a dayes by the priestes, do neuer so muche differ from it. 

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According to William Gordon (referencing the work of Germain Marc'hadour) there was another Frith work, a short, preliminary draft to his larger Tower work (Quid veteres senserint de sacramento eucharistiae (A Book Answering More's Letter) on the doctrine of the Eucharist, entitled A christen sentenceand true iudgement of the moste honorable Sacrament of Christes body and bloude declared both by the auctorite of the ho1y Scriptures and the auncient Doctores (STC-5190) - subsequently used by Tyndale. See, Germain Marc'hadour, Thomas More et la Bible (Paris, 1969), p.298 and Walter M Gordon, 'A Scholastic Problem in Thomas More's Controversy with John Frith', in The Harvard Theological Review 69:1/2 (January - April, 1976), pp.131-149. The influence of Oecolampadius and the figurative interpretation of the key biblical texts on the real presence in the Eucharist is clear from this treatise. Here Foxe extracts the four main points of Frith's doctrine. In essence, Frith wrote that interpretation of the presence was adiaphoric with regards to salvation, that the ubiquity theory of many medieval thinkers (and Luther) was unreasonable, that the text of Matthew 26.36 should be given an analogical rather than literal reading, and that the Mass ceremonial itself also needs to be brought more in line with Christ's own words. Frith made use of two works of Oecolampadius, De genuine verborum Domini, "hoc est corpus meum" juxta vetustissimos autores expositione (1525) and Dialogus quo patrum sententiam de coena Domini bonafide explanat (1530). [For discussion of these works see, William A Clebsch, England's Earliest Protestants (New Haven, 1964), p.126]. That Frith had been influenced by Oecolampadius was no secret to Thomas Cranmer who, after his interrogation of Frith in the Tower, wrote that Frith's doctrine was 'most after the opinion of Oecolampadius' - see Thomas Cranmer, Miscellaneous Writings and Letters, ed. J E Cox (Cambridge, 1846), letter no.xiv, p.246. It was against this shorter tract that More wrote his Letter Against Frith (which can be found in volume seven of the Yale edition of More's works), which Frith answered in his larger treatise which was not answered before his execution. More's The answere to the first parte of the poysened booke whych a namelesse heretyke hath named the souper of the lorde was published in 1534 (which can be found in volume eleven of the Yale edition). Frith became the first English theologian to address the Eucharist related issues of presence and efficacy of the Mass (and which Cranmer later incorporated into 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer).

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And for so muche as the treatise of this disputacion semed somwhat long, his frend desired him that suche thynges as he had reasoned vpon, he woulde briefly committe vnto wryting, and geue him for the helpe of his memorie. Fryth, albeit he was vnwilling, not being ignoraunt how daungerous a thing it was to moue suche contention, at the last notwithstanding he being ouercome by the intreatie of his frende, rathher folowed his will then his own sauegarde.

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MarginaliaWilliam Holt a tayler.There was at that tyme in London a Tailour named William Holt, 

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Holt, seemingly a part of More's spy network, was the foreman of the shop of one Mr Malte, tailor to the king.

whiche fayning a great frendshyppe, instantly required of this frende to geue hym lycence to reade ouer that same wryting of Frythes, whiche when he vnaduisedly did, þe other by & by caried it straight wayes vnto MarginaliaSir Thomas More ChaūcelerMoore being then Chauncelour, whiche thyng afterwarde brought great daunger and death vnto Fryth, for More hauinge gotten a copie of this booke, not onely of this Sicophant, but also twoo other copies whiche at the same tyme in a maner were sent him by other promouters, he whetted his wyttes and called his spirites together as muche as he myght, meanyng to refute his opinion by a contrary booke. 
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This refers to the earlier More treatise Letter Against Frith.

MarginaliaFrythes boke of the sacrament.This in a maner was the whole some of the reasons of Frythes booke, fyrst to declare that the cause of the sacrament was no necessary article of our fayth. Whiche thyng was euident enough of it selfe, and also myght be confirmed by manifest reasons, for the fathers them selues in tymes past, were saued by the same faithe that we are. Whiche thinge apeareth playnly, by Saint Augustine wryting vnto Dardanus, and also by 600. other places, 
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Foxe refers here specifically to Augustine's The Presence of God, to Dardenus (or De praesentia Dei ad Dardanum) of 417AD - see Augustine of Hippo, Selected Writings, trans. by Mary T Clarke, ed. by Goulven Madec (New York, 1984), letter no.187, pp.403ff, in which Augustine distinguished between the Christ's humanity (limited to one place) and His divinity (which has no such limitation), but generally to the fact that medieval Catholic tradition on the specifics of the Eucharist incorporated some remarkably disparate opinion. In 1503, Erasmus would recommend in his Handbook that theologians refrain from further arguments over such unimportant technicalities as the precise mechanics of how Christ appears in the sacrament and just accept he does, somehow, appear. Foxe goes on to discuss the issue at some length.

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þt they beleuyng all suche things as perteyneth vnto the natiuitie, passion, resurrection, ascension, and glorie of Christ, did notwithstanding neither knowe, vnderstande, or beleue, any thing as touching this sacramentall chaunging of the bread into the substance of the body. Wherefore, if this article be of so great force vnto saluation, it is moste certaine that either they could not be saued without it,

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or that
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