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1215 [1215]

K. Hen. 8. The actes and doinges of Iohn Fryth, Martyr.

vnto vs, and that by either of them is signified that the body of Christ came downe from heauen, and yet notwithstādyng, neuer any of them sayd that Manna was the very body of Messias, as our Sacramentall bread is not in deede the body of Christ, but a mysticall representation of the same. MarginaliaA similitude betwene Manna, & the body of Christ.For lyke as the Manna which came downe from heauen, and the bread whiche is receiued in the Supper, doth nourish þe body, euen so the body of Christe commyng downe from heauen, and beyng geuen for vs, doth quicken vp the spirites of the beleuers vnto lyfe euerlastyng. Then, if the saluation of both people be a lyke, and there fayth also one, there is no cause why we shoulde adde transubstantiation vnto our Sacrament, more then they beleued theyr Manna to be altered and chaunged. Moreouer, for because they are named Sacramētes euen by the signification of þe name, they must nedes be signes of thyngs, or els of necessitie, they can be no Sacramentes.

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MarginaliaObiection.But some may here obiecte and saye: If onely fayth, both vnto them and also vnto vs, bee sufficient for saluation, what nede then any Sacramentes to be instituted? MarginaliaAunswere.He aunswereth, that there are three causes why Sacramentes are instituted. MarginaliaThree causes why Sacramentes are ordeyned.The first S. Austen declareth in these woordes, writyng agaynst Faustus: Men (sayth he) cā not be knitte together into one name of Religion, be it true, or bee it false, except they be knitte by the societie of signes and visible Sacramentes, þe power wherof doth wonderfully preuayle, in so much, that such as contemne them are wicked: for that is wickedly contemned, without the which godlynes cannot be made perfect. &c. MarginaliaThe second cause.An other cause is, that they should be helpes to grafte and plante fayth in our hartes, and for the confirmation of Gods promisses. MarginaliaSacramentes not to be worshipped for the thinges.But this vse of Sacramentes, many are yet ignoraunt of, and more there be whiche do preposterouslye iudge of the same, takyng the signes for the thyng it self and worshyppyng the same: euē by like reason in a maner, as if a man would take the bushe that hangeth at the Tauerne doore, and sucke it for to slake hys thyrst, and will not go into the Tauerne where the wyne is. MarginaliaThe thyrd cause.Thirdly they doo serue vnto this vse, to stirre vp the myndes and hartes of the faythfull to geue thankes vnto God for his benefites. And these in a maner, are the principall pointes of hys booke. 

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Foxe's examination of Frith's work reveals a great many debts to the writings of Zwingli and Oecolampadius. For example, the discussion of circumcision (as the foundation of the covenant) and manna (patristic opinion of it as an early manifestation of the Eucharist eating) can be traced to Zwingli's On the Lord's Supper (1526). Discussions of the sacraments as made up of signs and things signified, and the relation between these issues, was a great part of the controversy between Lutherans and Zwinglians. Frith clearly belonged to the Zwinglian camp (which held an analogical connection).

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MarginaliaMore wryteth agaynst Iohn Fryth.When More (as is before sayd) had gotten a copye of this treatise, he sharpened his pen all that he might, to make aunswere vnto this yonge man (for so he calleth hym throughout hys whole booke) but in such sort, that when the booke was once set foorth, and shewed vnto the world, then hee endeuoured him selfe all that he might, to kepe it from printyng, peraduenture lest that any copy therof should come vnto Frithes handes. 

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For perhaps obvious reasons, Foxe here makes more of More's reluctance to publish his refutation or answer than what was probably the case. More sent copies of the response to his friends for commentary (e.g. to Stephen Gardiner) rather than risk too much public/scholastic exposure for Frith's Zwinglianism. Of course, More also faces the very real task of trying to refute Frith's theology and scholastic arguments to a potential audience of literate men who were not, however, theologians. Too in-depth a theological or scriptural argument would have gone over their heads; too little evidence from scripture or from the traditional Catholic theologians would have merely provided ammunition to his enemies (Frith, Tyndale, etc.). More was under the additional pressure of being Henry VIII's voice of orthodoxy even though he had retired as chancellor over the divorce and supremacy issues.

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But notwithstanding, when at þe last Fryth had gotten a copy therof by meanes of his frendes, MarginaliaFryth aūswereth to More.he aunswered hym out of the prison, omittyng nothyng that any man could desire to the perfecte and absolute handlyng of the matter. 
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Foxe refers here to Frith's Quid veteres senserint de sacramento eucharistiae (A Book Answering More's Letter).

And as it were a great labour, so doo I thinke it not much necessarie to repeate all his reasons and argumentes, or the testimonyes which he had gathered out of the Doctors: MarginaliaCranmer Archbishop of Canterburye holpen by the booke of Ioh. Frith.specially for somuch as the Archbyshop of Caunterbury Cranmer in hys Apologye agaynst the Bishop of Winchester, semeth to haue collected them abundantly, gathering þe principall and chiefest helpes from thence that he leaned vnto, against the other: and I doubt much whether the Archbishop euer gaue any more credite vnto any author of that doctrine, then vnto this aforesayd Frith. 
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Foxe here refers to Thomas Cranmer's work of 1551, An Answer to a crafty and sophistical cavillation devised by Stephen Gardiner (which was a response to Gardiner's An explication and assertion of the true Catholique fayth).

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What dexteritie of wit was in hym, & excellencie of doctrine, it may appeare, not only by hys bokes whiche he wrote of þe Sacrament, but also in them which he intituled of Purgatory. MarginaliaRochester, More, and Rastall, against Frith.In whiche quarell he withstode the violence of three most obstinate enemyes, that is to say, of Rochester, More and Rastall. Wherof the one by the helpe of the Doctours, the other by wrestyng of the Scripture, and the thyrd by the helpe of naturall Philosophye had conspired agaynst him. 

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This refers to Frith's A Disputation of Purgatory (1531). As noted earlier, this short treatise was a response to three earlier pro-purgatory treatises written by More, his brother-on-law, Rastell and the bishop of Rochester, each of which takes a separate foundation for their argument - scripture, reason and natural philosophy, and the patristic fathers.

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But he, as a Hercules, fightyng not agaynst ij. onely, but euen with them all iij. at once, MarginaliaIoh. Fryth conuerted Rastall.dyd so ouerthrowe and confound them, that he conuerted Rastall 
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Rastell's book of 1530 had been in dialogue form between a German Christian and a Turk and he responded to Frith's book with An apology against John Frith which Frith may also have been responded to. Frith's theology on this point seems to reflect Luther's discussions of two kinds of righteousness, before God and before man. Because the sinner is already forgiven his sins, purgatory becomes a redundant theology - for which, see Martin Luther, 'Two kinds of righteousness', in Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, ed. by Timothy F Lull (Minneapolis, 2005), pp.134-40. Although More and Fisher were not convinced, Rastell was convinced, converted, and died a Protestant (imprisoned in the Tower in 1536). For a brief discussion of the Frith/Rastell relationship see Herbert Samworth, 'John Frith: Forging the English Reformation', at http://www.solagroup.org/articles/historyofthebible/ hotb_0011.html.

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to hys part.

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MarginaliaThe prudent temperance and moderation of Ioh. Frith.Beside all these commendations of this yong man, there was also in hym a frendly & prudent moderation in vtteryng of þe truth, ioyned with a learned godlines. Whiche vertue hath alwayes so much preuailed in the Churche of Christ, that without it, all other good giftes of knowledge, bee they neuer so great, can not greatly profite, but oftentimes do very much hurt. And would God, that all thynges in all places, were so free from all kynde of dissension, that there were no mention made amongest Christiās, of Zwinglians and Lutherians, whē as neither Zwinglius, neither Luther dyed for vs, but that we might be all one in Christ. Neither do I thinke that any thyng could happē more greuous vnto those worthy men, then their names so to be abused to sectes & factions, which so greatly withstode and stroue against all factiōs. Neither doe I here discourse whiche parte came nearest vnto the truth, neither so rashlye entermedle in this matter, that I will detract any thyng from either parte, but rather wishe of God I might ioyne either part vnto other. 

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Foxe is probably making a veiled reference to the Colloquy of Marburg (1-4 October 1529). Zwingli and Luther managed to agree to a wide range of issues but contended heatedly over the issue of the real presence. Luther eventually concluded that Zwingli was no better than a sacramentarian while Zwingli concluded that Luther was a secret favourer of the papal doctrine. The meeting had been arranged by Philip of Hesse in an attempt to unite Protestant Germany against resurgent Catholic power, only to result in permanent schism.

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But now for so much as we intreate of the story of Iohn Frith, I can not chuse, but must needes earnestly and hartely embrace the prudent and godly moderation, whiche was in that man, who maintaynyng this quarell of the Sacrament of the Lordes supper, no lesse godly then learnedlye (and so as no man in a maner, had done it more learnedlye, godly and pithely) yet hee did it so moderatelye, without any contention, that hee woulde neuer seeme to striue agaynst the Papistes, except he had bene driuen to it euē of necessitie. In all other matters, where necessitie did not moue him to contend, hee was ready to graunt all thynges for quietnesse sake, as his most modest reasons and aunsweres did declare.

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For whē as More disputyng in a certaine place vpō the Sacrament, layde agaynst him the authoritye of Doctour Barnes, for the presence of the bodye and bloud in the Sacrament 

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Foxe here refers to a work of Robert Barnes, a Lutheran theologian, entitled Sentientae ex doctoribus collectae, quas papistae valde impudenter hodie damnant (1530) which featured a preface by Bugenhagen. Whether consciously or not, Barnes here discussed, using scripture and patristic sources, what would amount to the main points of the Augsburg Confession (also of 1530), including nineteen chapters on such key reformation doctrines as faith, justification, free will, ecclesiastical authority and the sacrament. For a discussion of Barnes, see Neelak S Tjernagel, Henry VIII and the Lutherans (St Louis, 1965), pp.60ff.

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, hee aunswered vnto More and hys companiōs, MarginaliaIoh. Fryth speaking accordyng to that tyme,wyshed the opinion of Luther myght be receaued.that he would promise vnder this condition, that the sentence of Luther & Barnes might bee holden as ratified, hee would neuer speake more wordes of it: for in that poynt they did both agree with hym, that the Sacrament was not to bee worshypped, and that Idolatry beyng taken away, hee was content to permitte euery man to iudge of the Sacrament, as God should put into theyr hartes: for then there remayned no more poyson, that any man ought or might be afrayde on. Wherfore if they did agree in that which was the chiefe poynt of the Sacrament, they shoulde easely accorde and agree in the rest.

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Thus much hee wrote in the treatise entituled the exile of Barnes agaynst More. 

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The treatise referred to here may be part of Frith's The Mind and Exposition of the old doctors upon the words of Christ's Maundy [for which, see The works of the English Reformers: William Tyndale and John Frith, ed. by Thomas Russell, 3 vols. (London, 1831), 3, pp.360-424. There are several divisions in the text, one of which is 'D. Barnes did graciously escape M. More's Hands' (pp.420-23 of the Russell edition).

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MarginaliaModeratiō cōmended in matters of disputation.Which wordes of this most meeke Martyr in Christ, if they would take place in the seditious diuisions & factions of these our dayes, with great ease & litle labour men might be brought to a vnitie in thys controuersie, and much more concorde and loue should be in the Church, & much lesse offence geuen abroad, then there is.

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But to our storye again of Iohn Frith, who after he had now sufficiently contended in hys writinges with More, Rochester, and Rastall Mores sonne in law 

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Actually, John Rastel was married to More's younger sister Elizabeth. See Peter Ackroyd, The Life of Thomas More (London, 1998), p.9.

: he was at the last caryed to Lambeth, first before the Byshop of Canterbury, and afterward vnto Croydon before the byshop of Winchester to plead hys cause. MarginaliaIoh. Frith conuented before the bishops.Last of all, he was called before the byshops in a common assemble at London, wheras he constantly defended him selfe if he myght haue bene heard.

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The order of hys iudgement, with the maner of hys examination and articles which were obiected agaynst hym, are comprised and set forth by hym self, in a letter written and sent vnto hys frendes, whilest he was prisoner in the Tower. 

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Foxe constricts the chronology of Frith's trials to a certain extent and leaves out some interesting details. Frith was burned as a heretic on 4 July 1533, having first faced trial before Cranmer, sitting in court at Lambeth palace, with Stokesley, Longland, the duke of Suffolk, the Lord Chancellor (Sir Thomas Audley) and the earl of Wiltshire assisting. Cranmer, in a letter of 17 June 1533, noted that he had tried to persuade Frith to recant 'three or four times' previously - for which see Thomas Cranmer, Miscellaneous Writings and Letters, ed. by J E Cox (Cambridge, 1846), letter no.xiv, p.246. Prior to leaving Frith to the tender mercies of Stokesley, he was sent to appear before Gardiner, at his court in Croyden (22 December 1532). Frith would have been a useful addition to Cromwell's propaganda machine, if he could have been persuaded away from what Henry VIII considered sacramentarianism (one of only two heresies - with Anabaptism) for which the penalty throughout the reign was death. Gardiner could not talk Frith around, so he was brought before Stokesley's court at St Paul's on 20 June 1533 (Longland and Gardiner assisting). See BL Lansdowne MS 979, fol.92v; London Guildhall MS 9531/11: Episcopal Register Stokesley 1530-39, fol.71r. Frith dispatched a letter from prison to his friends on 23 June 1533. This is known as The Articles wherefore John Frith died which he wrote in Newgate the 23rd day of June … - for which, see The works of the English Reformers: William Tyndale and John Frith, ed. By Thomas Russell, 3 vols. (London, 1831), 3, pp.450-5.

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