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1030 [1029]

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

MarginaliaObiection But some may here obiect and say: If only fayth, both vnto them and also vnto vs, be sufficient for saluation, what neede then any Sacraments to be instituted? MarginaliaAunswere. He answeared, that there are three causes why Sacraments are instituted. MarginaliaThree causes why sacramentes are ordeyned. The first S. Austen declareth in these wordes, writyng agaynst Faustus: Men (saith he) can not be knyt together into one name of religion, be it true, or be it false, except they be knyt by the societie of signes and visible Sacramentes, the power whereof doth wonderfully preuaile, in so muche, that suche as contemne them are wicked: for that is wickedly contemned, without the whiche godlynes can not be made perfecte. &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 doo preposterously iudge of the same, takyng the signes for the thing it self, and worshipping the same: euen 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 his thirst, & wyl not go into the Tauerne where the wine is. MarginaliaThe third cause. Thirdly they doo serue vnto this vse, to stirre vp the mynds and harts of the faythful to geue thankes vnto God for his benefites. And these in a maner are the principall pointes of his 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 saide) had gotten a copie of this treatise, he sharpened his pen al that he might, to make answer vnto this yong man (for so he calleth hym throughout his whole booke) but in such sort, that when the booke was once set forth, and shewed vnto the worlde, then he endeuoured hym selfe all that he might, to keepe it from printing, peraduenture least that any copie thereof shoulde 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 the last Frith had gottē a copie thereof by meanes of his frends, MarginaliaFryth aunswereth to More. he answered hym out of the prison, omitting nothing that any man coulde desire to the perfect 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 do I thinke it not much necessarye to repeate all his reasons and argumentes, or the testimonies which he had gathered out of the Doctors: MarginaliaCranmer Archbyshop of Canterburye holpen by the booke of Iohn Frith. specially for so much as the Archb. of Canterbury Cranmer, in his Apologie against the Bishop of Winchester, seemeth to haue collected them abundantly, gatheryng the principall and chiefest helpes from thence that he leaned vnto, against the other: and I doubt muche whether the Archbishop euer gaue any more credite vnto any authour of that doctrine, then vnto this aforesaid 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 wyt was in hym, and excellencie of doctrine, it maye appeare not only by his bookes whiche he wrote of the Sacrament, but also in them which he entituled of Purgatorie. MarginaliaRochester More and Rastall agaynst Frith. In which quarell he withstood the violence of three most obstinate enemies, that is to saye, of Rochester, More and Rastal. Whereof the one by the helpe of the Doctors, the other by wresting of the scripture, and the third by the helpe of natural Philosophie had conspired against hym. 

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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, fighting not agaynst two onely, but euen with them al three at once, MarginaliaIohn Fryth conuerted Rastall. dyd so ouerthrowe & confound thē, 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 his part.

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MarginaliaThe prudent temperance and moderation of Iohn Frith. Besidea al these cōmendations of this young man, there was also in him a frendly & prudent moderation in vttering of the truth, ioyned with a learned godlines. Which vertue hath alwayes so much preuailed in the Churche of Christe, that without it, all other good gyftes of knowledge, be they neuer so great, can not greatly profite, but oftētymes do very much hurt. And would God that al thinges in al places were so free from all kinde of dissension, that there were no mention made amongest Christians, of Zuinglians & Lutherians, when as neither Zuinglius, neither Luther died for vs, but that we might be al one in Christ. Neither do I thinke that any thing could happē more greuous vnto those worthy men, then their names so to be abused to sectes and factions, whiche so greatly withstood and stroue against all factions. Neyther doo I here discourse whiche part came nearest vnto the truth, neither so rashely intermeddle in this matter, that I wyl detract any thing from eyther part, 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 nowe for so much as we entreate of the storye of Iohn Frith, I can not chuse, but must needes earnestly and hartily embrace the prudent and godly moderation which was in that man, who mainteynyng this quarell of the Sacrament of the Lordes supper, no lesse godly then learnedly, (and so as no man in a manner had done it more learnedly, godly and pithily) yet he dyd it so moderately, without any cōtention, that he would neuer seeme to striue against þe papistes, except he had ben driuen to it euen of necessitie. In al other matters, where necessitie did not moue him to cōtend, he was ready to graunt al thinges for quietnes sake, as his most modest reasons and answeares dyd declare.

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For when as More disputyng in a certayne place vpon the Sacrament, layde agaynste hym the authoritie of Doctour Barnes, for the presence of the body 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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, he answeared vnto More and his companions, MarginaliaIohn Fryth speaking according to that tyme, wyshed the opinion of Luther myght be receaued. that he would promise vnder this condition, that the sentence of Luther and Barnes might be holdē as ratified, he would neuer speake more woordes of it: for in that poynt they dyd both agree with hym, that the sacrament was not to be worshipped, and that Idolatrie beyng taken away, he was content to permit euery man to iudge of the Sacrament, as God should put into their harts: for then there remayned no more poyson, that any man ought or might be afraide on. Wherefore if they dyd agree in that whiche was the chiefe poynt of the sacrament, they shoulde easily accorde and agree in the rest.

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Thus muche he 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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MarginaliaModeration commended in matters of disputation. Which words of this most meeke martyr in Christ, if they woulde take place in the seditious dyuysions and factions of these our dayes, with great ease and litle labour, men might be brought to a vnitie in thys controuersie, and muche more concorde and loue should be in the Church and much lesse offence geuen abrod, then there is.

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But to our story againe of Iohn Frith, who after he had nowe sufficiently contended in his writinges with More, Rochester, and Rastal, Mores sonne in lawe 

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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 Bishop of Canterburie and afterwarde vnto Croydon, before the Bishop of Winchester to pleade his cause. MarginaliaIohn Fryth conuented before the byshops. Last of all, he was called before the Bishoppes in a common assemble at London, where as he constantly defended hym selfe, if he might haue bene hearde.

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The order of his iudgement, with the maner of hys examination and articles whiche were obiected against hym, are comprised and set forth by hym selfe, in a letter written and sent vnto his freendes, 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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¶ A letter of Iohn Frith to his frendes, concernyng his troubles: wherein, after he had first with in briefe preface saluted them, entring then into the matter, thus he writeth.

MarginaliaThis letter is to be seen in the end of that excellēt and worthey worke which he made in the Tower concerning the sacramēt of the body and bloud of Christ. I Doubt not, deare brethrē, but that it doth sōe deale vexe you, to see that one part haue all the wordes, and freely to speake what they list, and the other to be put to silence, and not to be harde indifferently. But referre your matters to God, which shortly shal iudge after an other fashiō. In the meane tyme I haue written vnto you as briefly as I maye, what articles were obiected against me, and what were the principall poyntes of my condemnation, that ye might vnderstande the matter certainely.

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The whole matter of this my examination was comprehended in two special articles, that is to say, of Purgatorie, and of the substance of the Sacrament.

And first of al, as touching Purgatorie, they enquired of me, whether I did beleue that there was any place to purge the spottes and filthe of the soule after this life. MarginaliaPurgatorye. But I saide that I thought there was no such place. For man (saide I) doth consist, and is made onely of two partes, that is to say, of the body and the soule, whereof the one is purged here in this worlde, by the Crosse of Christe, whiche he layeth vpon euery childe that he receyueth: as affliction, worldly oppression, persecution, imprisonment. &c. and laste of all the rewarde of sinne, whiche is death, is laide vpon vs: but the soule is purged with the woorde of God, which we receiue through fayth, to the saluation both of body & soule. Nowe if ye cā shew me a third part of mē beside the body & the soule, I wyl also graunt vnto you a thirde place, whiche you do cal Purgatory. But if ye can not do this, I must also of necessitie denie vnto you the Bishop of Romes Purgatory. Neuertheles I count neither part a necessary article of our fayth to be beleued vnder paine of damnation, whether there be such a Purgatorie or no.

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Secondly, they examined me touching the sacrament of the aultar, 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 aunsweared, that I thought it was both Christes body and also our body, as Saint Paul teacheth vs in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, and tenth Chapter. For in that it is made one bread of many cornes, it is called our bodye, whiche beyng diuers and many members, are associate and gathered together into one felowship or bodye. Likewise of the wine wiche is gathered of many clusters of grapes, and is made into one licour. But the same bread againe, in that it is broken, is the body of Christ, declaring his bodye to be broken and deliuered vnto death, to redeeme vs from our iniquities.

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Furthermore, in the Sacrament is distributed, it is Christes body, signifying that as verily as that Sacrament

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