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1216 [1216]

K. Henry. 8. A letter of John Fryth, to the congregation.
¶ A letter of Ihon Fryth to his frendes, concerning his troubles: vvherin, after he had first vvith in briefe preface saluted thē, entring then into the matter, thus he vvriteth.

MarginaliaThys letter is to be seene in the end of that excellent & worthye worke which he made in the Tower cōcernyng the Sacrament of the bodye and bloud of Christ.I Doubt not deare brethren, but that it doth some deale vexe you, to see þt one part haue all the wordes, & freely to speake what they liste, & the other to be put to silence, & not to be heard indifferently. But referre your matters to God, which shortly shal iudge after an other fashion. In the meane tyme I haue wrytten vnto you as brieflie as I maye, what articles were obiected agaynst me, and what were the principall poyntes of my condemnation, that ye might vnderstande the matter certeinly.

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The whole matter of thys my examination was cōprehended in. ij. speciall Articles, that is to say, of purgatory, and of the substance of the Sacrament.

And fyrst of all, as touching Purgatory, they enquired of me, whether I did beleue that ther was any place to purge the spottes and filthe of the soule after this life. MarginaliaPurgatorye.But I sayd that I thought there was no such place. For man (sayd I) doth consiste and is made onely of two partes, that is to say, of the body & the soule, wherof the one is purged here in this world by the crosse of Christ, which hee layeth vpon euery childe that he receiueth: as affliction, worldly oppression, persecution, imprisonment. &c. and last of all the rewarde of sinne which is death, is laid vpon vs: but the soule is purged with the worde of God, which we receaue through faith, to the saluation both of body and soule. Nowe if ye can shew me a thirde parte of man besyde the body and the soule, I wyll also graunt vnto you a thirde place, which you do call Purgatorye. But if ye can not do this, I must also of necessitye denye vnto you the Byshop of Romes Purgatory. Neuertheles I count neyther part a necessarye article of our faith to be beleued vnder payne of damnation, whether there be such a Purgatorye, or no.

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Secondly they examined me, touching the Sacramēt of the Altar, whether it was the very body of Christ, or no. 

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Foxe here almost directly lifts the text of the Frith letter. According to Frith (and substantiated by Stokesley's register) there were two counts against him with regard to the doctrine of purgatory (which he denied) and the doctrine of the real presence in the Eucharist. Purgatory was dealt with first (pages 450-1 in the Russell edition). With regard to his purgatorial doctrine, Frith had not moved far from his earlier treatises. For example, he held that St Augustine interpreted 'fire' in 1 Corinthians 3 not with purging but with temptations and tribulations in life. Thus, if he did make a concession it was only that if purgatory existed it would have to exist in this life (pertaining as it does to the body and physical matters) and not after death (pertaining as that does to the spiritual and the mind). Frith used the texts of 1 John 1:7-9 to explain himself, adopting a basic Zwinglian approach (justification and sanctification), nonetheless maintaining an adiaphoric stance with regard to salvation itself - see Raynor, p.110.

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MarginaliaThe Sacrament of Christes bodye.I aunswered, that I thought it was both Christes bodye and also our bodye, as Saint Paul teacheth vs in the fyrst epistle to the Corinthians, and x. chapter. For in that it is made one bread of many cornes, it is called our bodye, which being diuers and many members, are associate and gathered together into one fellowship or bodye. Lykewyse of the wine which is gathered of many clusters of grapes, and is made into one licore. But the same breade againe, in that it is broken, is the body of Christ, declaring hys body to be broken and deliuered vnto death, to redeme vs from our iniquities. Furthermore, in þe Sacramēt is distributed, it is Christes bodye, signifying that as verely as that Sacrament is distributed vnto vs, so verelye is Christes body and the fruite of his passion distributed vnto al faythful people.

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In that it is receaued, it is Christes bodye, signifying that as verely as the outward man receaueth the Sacrament with his teeth and mouth: so verely doth the inwarde man, through fayth receaue Christes bodye and fruite of hys passion, and is as sure of it as of the bread that he eateth.

Well sayd they, doost thou not thinke þt his very naturall body, flesh, bloud, & bone, is really cōteined vnder the Sacramēt, & there present without all figure or similitude? MarginaliaTransubstātiation.No, sayd I, I doe not so thinke. Notwithstandyng I woulde not that any should counte that I make my saying (which is the negatiue) any article of fayth. For euen as I saye that you ought not to make any necessarye article of the fayth of your parte (which is the affirmatiue) so I say agayne that we make no necessarye article of the fayth of our parte, but leaue it indifferent for all men to iudge therin as God shall open hys hart, and no side to condemne or despise the other, but to nourishe in all thynges brotherly loue, and one to beare an others infirmitie.

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MarginaliaFerebatur manibus proprijs.After thys, they alleaged the place of Saint Augustine where he sayth, ferebatur in manibus propriis. 

Commentary  *  Close

This is largely a close paraphrasing of page 451 of the Russell edition. Frith's examination of St Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians was inspired (or lifted directly) from Zwingli's Exposition and basis of the conclusions or articles (of 1523). The reference to sacramental eating ('Finally when … mouth and teth'] is taken from Zwingli's Fidei confessio (or Account of the faith) of 1530. After which Frith expresses his adiaphora theory on the sacrament. The quote is altered slightly in the 1583 edition.

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That is to saye, hee was caried in his owne hands. MarginaliaThe place of S. Augustine expounded.Wherunto I aunswered that Saint Augustine was a playne interpreter of hym selfe, for hee sayeth in an other place: Ferebatur tanquam in manibus suis, that is to saye, hee was caried, as it were, in hys owne handes: which is a phrase of speach, not of one that doth simplye affirme, but onely of one expressing a thing by a similitude. And albeit that S. Austine had not thus expounded hym selfe, yet he writting vnto Boniface, doth playnly admonish all men, MarginaliaAugustinus ad Bonefacium.that the Sacramentes do represent & signifie those thinges, wherof they are Sacramentes, & many times, euē of the similitude of þe thinges thē selues they do take their names: and therfore according to thys rule it may be sayde, hee was borne in hys owne handes, when as hee bare in his handes the Sacrament of hys body and bloode.

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Then they alleaged a place of Chrisostome, which at the first blushe may seme to make much for them: who in a certaine Homelye vppon the supper, wryteth thus: Doest thou see bread and wine? Doe they depart from thee into the draught as other meates do? No, God forbid. For as in waxe whē it commeth to the fire, nothing of the substaunce remaineth nor abydeth: so likewyse thinke that the mysteries are consumed by the substance of the body. &c. MarginaliaThe place of Chrisostome aunswered.These wordes I expoūded by þe wordes of the same Doctour, which in an other Homelye sayth on thys manner. The inwarde eies (sayth hee) as soone as they see 

Commentary  *  Close

This is largely a close paraphrasing of page 452 of the Russell edition. Frith refers here to the letter of St Augustine to Boniface (of 408AD). This is letter no.98 of Augustine's collected letters and can be found on-line at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102098.htm, which discusses the relationship between the physical elements of the eucharist and the spiritual elements these represent. Luther held that the physical and spiritual elements partake of each other in such a close fashion that the bread and the body of Christ cannot be distinguished in the elements whereas Zwingli (who Frith follows here) held that the relationship between the physical and spiritual elements was symbolic only, but that the physical elements still had some deep meaning (see the references to sacramental eating made earlier). Frith then went on to discuss the opinions of St John Chrysostom, which the bishops interrogating him took to prove a physical presence. Frith is here referring to Chrysostom's homily 82 (an exposition of Matthew 26:26-9), which can be found on-line at http://www.newadvent. org/fathers/240182.htm. Chrysostom actually discusses the eucharist throughout several homilies (on Matthew and on John 6) and it is understandable why the bishops would take him as a source in favour of a real physical presence doctrine. Chrysostom often made a comparative argument in his homilies (here and elsewhere) between God's power and human senses so, for example, where Jesus says 'this is my body', Chrysostom seemed willing to take Him at his word, even if human senses failed to discern a difference between the bread and the body.

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the breade, they flye ouer all creatures, and do not thinke of the bread that is baken of the baker, but of the bread of euerlasting life, which is signified by the misticall breade. Now cōferre these places together, and you shall perceaue that the last expoūdeth the first plainlye. For he sayth, doost thou see the bread and wine? I aunswere by the second, nay. MarginaliaChrisostome expoundeth him selfe.For the inwarde eies as soone as they see the bread, doe passe ouer all creatures, and do not any longer thinke vppon the bread, but vpon him which is signifyed by the bread. And after thys manner he seeth it, and againe he seeth it not: for as he seeth it with hys outwarde and carnall eies, so with hys inward eyes he seeth it not, that is to say, regardeth not the bread or thinketh not vpon it, but is otherwyse occupyed. Euen as when we playe or doe any thing ells negligently, we commonly are wont to say: wee see not what we do: not that in dede we do not see þt which we go about, but because our minde is fixed on some other thyng & doth not attend vnto that which the eyes do see.

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In like manner maye it bee aunswered vnto that whiche followeth: Doe they auoyde from thee (sayth hee) into the draught as other meates doe? I will not so saye. For other meates passing through the bowells, after they haue of them selues gyuen nourishment vnto the bodye, bee voyded into the draught, but thys is a spirituall meat, which is receyued by faith, & nourisheth both body and soule vnto euerlasting life, neither is it at anye tyme auoided as other meates are.

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And as before I sayde, that the externall eies doe behold the breade, whiche the inwarde eies being otherwise occupied 

Commentary  *  Close

This is largely a close paraphrasing of page 452 of the Russell edition. Frith carries on the discussion of Chrysostom's doctrine.

, doe not behold or thinke vpon, euen so our outward man, doth dygeste the bread and voide it into the draught, but the inward mā, doth neyther regard nor thinke vpō it, but thinketh vpon the thing it selfe, that is signified by that bread. MarginaliaArgumentum ex Chrysost.
The bellye of man can not auoyde any part of Christes bodye.
The bellye of man auoydeth some parte of euery thyng that the mouth receaueth.
Ergo, the mouth of man receaueth not the bodye of Christ.
And therfore Chrysostome a litle before the wordes which they alleaged, sayth: Lift vp your mindes and hartes. Wherby he admonisheth vs to looke vppon and consider those heauenly thinges which are represented and signified by the bread and wine, MarginaliaAll mysteries are to be sene with inward eyes.and not to marke the bread and wine in it selfe. Here they sayd, that was not Chrysostomes minde: but that by thys example he declared that there remayned no bread nor wyne. I aunswered, that was false: for the example that he taketh, tendeth to no other purpose, but to call awaye our spirituall eyes from the beholding of visible thinges, and to transport them an other way, as if the thinges that are seene, were of no force. Therfore he draweth awaye our minde from the consideration of these thinges, and fixeth it vppon him, which is signifyed vnto vs by the same. The verye wordes which followe, suffycientlye declare this to be the true meanyng of the author, wheras hee commaundeth vs to consider all thinges with oure inward eyes, that is to say: spiritually. 
Commentary  *  Close

This is largely a close paraphrase of pages 452-3 of the Russell edition. Frith carries on the discussion of Chrysostom's doctrine, in which Frith has taken up Zwingli's spiritual doctrine in explanation of his own opinions.

MarginaliaChrisostome agaynst the popishe doctrine of the Sacrament.But whether Chrisostomes wordes do tend either to this or that sense, yet do they indifferently make on our parte against our aduersaries, which way so euer we vnderstand thē. For if he thought that the bread and wine do remaine, we haue no further to trauaile: MarginaliaThe obiection of Chrisostome auoyded by a Dilemma.but if he meant cōtrariwise, that they do not remaine, but that the natures of the bread and wine are altered, then are the bread and wine falslye named Sacramentes and mysteries, whiche can be sayd in no place to bee in the nature of things: For that which is in no place, how can it bee a Sacrament, or supplye the roume of a misterye? Finallye if hee speake onely of the outwarde formes and shapes (as we call them) it is most certeine, that they doe continually remaine, and that they by the substance of the bodye are not con-

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