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1214 [1214]

K. Henry. 8. John Fryth of the Sacrament.

Marginalia1.FIrst, that the matter of the Sacrament is no necessarye Article of fayth vnder payne of damnation.

Marginalia2.Secondly, that for so much as Christes natural body, in lyke condition hath all properties of our body, sinne onely except, it can not be, neither is it agreable vnto reason, that he should be in two places or moe at once, contrary to the nature of our body.

Marginalia3.Moreouer, it shall not seme meete or necessarie, that we should in this place vnderstand Christes wordes accordyng to the literall sense, but rather according to the order and phrase of speach, cōparyng phrase with phrase, according to the Analogie of the Scripture.

Marginalia4.Last of all, how that it ought to be receiued according to the true and ryght institution of Christ, albeit that the order whiche at this time is crept into the Churche & is vsed now a dayes by the Priestes, do neuer so much 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 somuch as the treatise of this disputation semed somewhat long, hys frend desired hym that such thynges as he had reasoned vpon, he would briefly cōmit vnto writyng & geue vnto hym for the helpe of his memorie. MarginaliaThe occasion of Frithes wryting vpon the Sacramēt.Frith, albeit hee was vnwillyng, and not ignorant how daungerous a thyng it was to enter into such a contentious matter, at the last notwithstandyng he being ouercome by the intreatie of hys frend, rather folowed his will, then looked to hys own sauegarde.

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MarginaliaWilliam Holte, a Iudas.There was at that tyme in London a Taylour 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 fainyng a great frendship towarde this partie, instantly required of hym to geue him licence to read ouer that same writyng of Frithes. whiche when he vnaduisedly did, the other by and by caryed it vnto MarginaliaSyr Tho. More, Chaūceler.More beyng then Chauncellour, which thyng afterward was occasion of great trouble, & also of death, vnto the sayd Frith. For More hauyng gotten a copie of this booke, not onely of this Sicophant, but also two other copyes which at the same tyme, in a maner, were sent hym by other promoters, he whetted his wittes, and called his spirites together as much as hee might, meaning to refute his opiniō by a cōtrary boke. 
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This refers to the earlier More treatise Letter Against Frith.

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MarginaliaThe summe of Frythes booke of the Sacramēt.This, in a maner, was the whole sūme of the reasōs of Frithes booke: first to declare the Popes beliefe of the Sacrament to be no necessary Article of our fayth 

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Frith held the sacrament of the eucharist as adiaphora or of no specific salvation value.

, that is to say, MarginaliaThe not beleuing the corporall presēce of Christ in the Sacrament, is no damnation.that it is no Article of our fayth necessary to be beleued vnder payne of damnation that the Sacrament should be the naturall body of Christ. Which he thus proueth: For many so beleue, & yet in so beleuyng the Sacrament to be the naturall body, are not therby saued, but receiue it to their damnation.

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Agayne, in beleuyng þe Sacrament to be the naturall body, yet that naturall presence of his body in þe bread, is not that which saueth vs, but hys presence in our hartes by fayth. And lykewise the not beleuyng of hys bodily presence in the Sacrament, is not the thing that shall damne vs: but the absēce of hym out of our hart, through vnbelefe. And if it be obiected, that it is necessary to beleue Gods woorde vnder payne of damnation: to that he aunswereth, that the word taken in the right sense as Christ meant, mainteyneth no such bodilye presence as the Popes church doth teach, but rather a Sacramentall presence. And that (saith he) may be further confirmed thus. 

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This is very similar to the theology of Zwingli, Oecolampadius and Martin Bucer, who developed the idea that non-believers eat to their own damnation in 1528 - see Martin Bucer, Conciliation between Dr Luther and His opponents regarding Christ's Supper. Zwingli would also make much of the idea of sacramental eating in his Fidei confessio (or Account of the faith), published in 1530.

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¶ Argument.

MarginaliaCc.None of the old fathers before Christes incarnatiō, were bound vnder payne of damnation to beleue this point:

Marginaliala.All we be saued by the same fayth that the old Fathers were:

Marginaliarent.Ergo, none of vs are bounde to beleue this poynte vnder payne of damnation.

The first part (sayth he) is euident of it self. For how coulde they beleue that, whiche they neuer heard nor sawe?

The second part (sayth he) appeareth playnly by MarginaliaAugust. ad Dardanū.S. Austen writyng ad Dardanum, and also by an hūdreth places moe. 

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Much of this is repeated from the 1563 edition, except here Foxe adds the relevant biblical quotes in the margins: I Corinthians 10:1-4; Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 26:4.

Neither is there any thyng, that hee doth more often inculcate then this, that the same fayth that saued our fathers, saueth vs also. And therfore vppon the truth of these ij. partes thus proued, must the conclusion (sayth he) nedes followe.

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¶ An other Argument.

None of the old fathers before Christes Incarnation, did eate Christ corporally in their signes, but onely mistically and spiritually, and were saued:

All we do eate Christ euen as they did, and are saued as they were:

Ergo, none of vs do eate Christ corporally, but mystically and spiritually in our signes as they dyd.

For the probation of the first part, Frith procedyng in hys discourse, declareth howe the auncient fathers before Christes Incarnation, did neuer beleue any such point of this grosse and carnall eatyng of Christes body: and yet notwithstandyng they dyd eate hym spiritually, and were saued: as Adam, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Phinees, and other godly Israelites besides. All whiche (sayth he) did eate the body of Christ, and dyd drinke his bloud, as we do. But this eatyng and drinkyng of theirs was spiritual, perteinyng onely to faith, and not to the teeth: For they were all vnder the cloud, and dranke of the rocke which folowed thē, this rocke was Christ, Marginalia1. Cor. 10.which was promised then to come into the world. And this promise was first made vnto Adā, when as it was said vnto þe Serpent: I will put hatred betwene thee & the woman, betwene her sede and thy sede. &c. MarginaliaGen. 3.And afterward agayn vnto Abrahā, In thy seede shall all people be blessed. &c. 

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References are to I Corinthians 10:1-4; Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 26:4.

MarginaliaGen. 26.Adding also þe Sacrament of Circumcision, which was called the couenaunt, MarginaliaBread is called the bodye, as the sacramēt of circumcision is called the couenant.not because it was so in dede, but because it was a signe and token of the couenaunte made betwene God and Abraham, admonyshing vs therby, howe we shoulde iudge and thinke touching þe Sacrament of hys body & bloud: to wytte, that albeit it be called the body of Christ, yet we should properly vnderstand therby the frute of oure iustification, whiche plentyfullye floweth vnto all faythfull by his most healthfull body and bloud. Likewise the same promise was made vnto Moyses, the most meke and gentle Captain of the Israelites, whiche dyd not onely hym selfe beleue vppon Christ, whiche was so often promised, but also dyd prefigurate hym by diuers meanes, MarginaliaManna, a figure of Christes body.
The water of the rocke, a figure of Christes body.
both by the Manna which came downe from heauen, and also by the water which ishued out of the rocke, for the refreshing of the bodies of his people.

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Neither is it to be doubted, but that both Manna and this water had a Propheticall misterye in them, MarginaliaBread & wine, a figure likewise of Christes body.declaryng the very self same thing then, whiche the bread and the wine doe now declare vnto vs in the Sacrament. For thus sayth S. Austine: Who so euer did vnderstand Christ in the Manna, did eate the same spirituall foode that we do. But they which by that Manna sought onlye to fill theyr bellies, did eat therof and are dead. So likewise sayth he of the drinke: For the rocke was Christ. Marginalia1. Cor. 10.And by & by after, he inferreth thus: Moses did eat Manna and Phinees also, and many other also dyd eat therof, which pleased God & are not dead. Why? because they did vnderstand the visible meat spiritually. They did spiritually honger and dyd spiritually taste of it, that they myght spiritually be satisfied. MarginaliaThe olde fathers dyd eate the same spirituall foode that we doe, but not þe same corporal foode. For they dyd eate Christ in Manna, we do eate hym in bread.They al did eat þe same spirituall meat, & all did drinke þe same spirituall drinke: all one spirituall thing, but not all one corporall matter (for they dyd eate Manna, and we a nother thing) but þe self same spirituall thing þt we do, and although they dranke the same spirituall drinke that we doe, yet they dranke one thing & we a nother: which neuertheles signified all one thing in spirituall effect. How did they drinke al one thing? The Apostle answereth: Of the spirituall rocke whiche followed them, for the rocke was Christ. MarginaliaBede.And Bede also addyng these wordes, sayth: Behold the signes are altered and yet the fayth remayneth one. Thereby a man may perceiue that the Manna, whiche came downe from heauen, was the same vnto them that our Sacrament is

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