178. JOHN FRITH AND ANDREW HEWET.
The story, examination, death, and martyrdom of John Frith.MONGST all other chances lamentable,:there hath been none a great time which seemed unto me more grievous, than the lamentable death and cruel handling of John Frith, so learned and excellent a young man; which had so profited in all kind of learning and knowledge, that scarcely there was his equal amongst all his companions; and besides, withal, had such a godliness of life joined with his doctrine, that it was hard to judge in whether of them he was more commendable, being greatly praiseworthy in them both: but as touching his doctrine, by the grace of Christ we will speak hereafter.
Of the great godliness which was in him, this may serve for experiment sufficient, for that notwithstanding his other manifold and singular gifts and ornaments of the mind, in him most pregnant, wherewithal he might have opened an easy way unto honour and dignity, notwithstanding he chose rather wholly to consecrate himself unto the church of Christ, excellently showing forth, and practising in himself, the precept so highly commended of the philosophers, touching the life of man: which life, they say, is given unto us in such sort, that how much the better the man is, so much the less he should live unto himself, but unto other, serving for the common utility; and that we should think a great part of our birth to be due unto our parents, a greater part unto our country, and the greatest part of all to be bestowed upon the church, if we will be counted good men. First of all he began his study at Cambridge; in whom nature had planted, being but a child, marvellous instinctions and love unto learning, whereunto he was addicted. He had also a wonderful promptness of wit, and a ready capacity to receive and understand any thing, insomuch that he seemed not to be sent unto learning, but also born for the same purpose. Neither was there any diligence wanting in him, equal unto that towardness, or worthy of his disposition; whereby it came to pass, that he was not only a lover of learning, but also became an exquisite learned man; in the which exercise when he had diligently laboured certain years, not without great profit both of Latin and Greek, at the last he fell into knowledge and acquaintance with William Tyndale, through whose instructions he first received into his heart the seed of the gospel and sincere godliness.
At that time Thomas Wolsey, cardinal of York, prepared to build a college in Oxford, marvellously sumptuous, which had the name and title of Frideswide, but now named Christ's-church, not so much (as it is thought) for the love and zeal that he bare unto learning, as for an ambitious desire of glory and renown, and to leave a perpetual name unto posterity. But that building, he being cut off by the stroke of death, (for he was sent for unto the king, accused of certain crimes, and in the way, by immoderate purgations, killed himself,) was left partly begun, partly half ended and imperfect, and nothing else save only the kitchen was fully finished. Whereupon Rodulph Gualter, a learned man, being then in Oxford, and beholding the college, said these words in Latin: Egregium opus, cardinalis iste instituit collegium, et absolvit popinam. How large and ample those buildings should have been, what sumptuous cost should have been bestowed upon the same, may easily be perceived by that which is already builded, as the kitchen, the hall, and certain chambers, where there is such curious graving and workmanship of stone-cutters, that all things on every side did glister for the excellency of the workmanship, for the fineness of the matter, with the gilt antics and embossings; insomuch that if all the rest had been finished to that determinate end as it was begun, it might well have excelled not only all colleges of students, but also palaces of princes. This ambitious cardinal gathered together into that college whatsoever excellent thing there was in the whole realm, either vestments, vessels, or other ornaments, beside provision of all kind of precious things. Besides that, he also appointed unto that company all such men as were found to excel in any kind of learning and knowledge; whose names to recite all in order would be too long. The chief of them which were called from Cambridge were these: Master Clerk, master of arts, of thirty-four years of age; Master Frier, afterwards doctor of physic, and after that a strong papist; Master Sumner, master of arts; Master Harman, master of arts, afterwards fellow of Eton college, and after that a papist; Master Bettes, master of arts, a good man and zealous, and so remained; Master Cox, master of arts, who conveyed himself away toward the north, and after was schoolmaster of Eton, and then chaplain to Doctor Goodrich, bishop of Ely, and by him preferred to King Henry, and, of late, bishop of Ely; John Frith, bachelor of arts; Bayly, bachelor of arts; Goodman, who being sick in the prison with the others, was had out, and died in the town; Drumme, who afterwards fell away and forsook the truth; Thomas Lawney, chaplain of the house, prisoner with John Frith.
To these join also Taverner of Boston, the good musician, besides many other called also out of other places, most picked young men, of grave judgment and sharp wits; who, conferring together upon the abuses of religion, being at that time crept into the church, were therefore accused of heresy unto the cardinal, and cast into a prison, within a deep cave under the ground of the same college, where their salt-fish was laid; so that, through the filthy stench thereof, they were all infected, and certain of them, taking their death in the same prison, shortly upon the same being taken out of the prison into their chambers, there deceased.
The troublers and examiners of these good men, were these: Dr. London; Dr. Higdon, dean of the said college; and Dr. Cottesford, commissary.
Master Clerk, Master Sumner, and Sir Bayly, eating nothing but salt-fish from February to the midst of August, died all three together within the compass of one week.
Master Bettes, a witty man, having no books found in his chamber, through entreaty and surety got out of prison, and so remaining a space in the college, at last slipped away to Cambridge, and afterwards was chaplain to Queen Anne, and in great favour with her.
Taverner, although he was accused and suspected for hiding of Clerk's books under the boards in his school, yet the cardinal, for his music, excused him, saying that he was but a musician: and so he escaped.
After the death of these men, John Frith with others, by the cardinal's letter, which sent word that he would not have them so straitly handled, were dismissed out of prison, upon condition not to pass above ten miles out of Oxford; which Frith, after hearing of the examination of Dalaber and Garret, which bare then faggots, went over the sea, and after two years he came over for exhibition of the prior of Reading, (as is thought,) and had the prior over with him.
Being at Reading, it happened that he was there taken for a vagabond, and brought to examination; where the simple man, which could not craftily enough colour himself, was set in the stocks. After he had sitten a long time, and was almost pined with hunger, and would not, for all that, declare what he was, at the last he desired that the schoolmaster of the town might be brought to him, who at that time was one Leonard Cox, a man very well learned. As soon as he came unto him, Frith, by and by, began in the Latin tongue to bewail his captivity.
The schoolmaster, by and by, being overcome with his eloquence, did not only take pity and compassion upon him, but also began to love and embrace such an excellent wit and disposition unlooked for, especially in such a state and misery. Afterwards, conferring more together upon many things, as touching the universities, schools, and tongues, they fell from the Latin into the Greek, wherein Frith did so inflame the love of that schoolmaster towards him, that he brought him into a marvellous admiration, especially when the schoolmaster heard him so promptly by heart rehearse Homer's verses out of his first book of the Iliad; whereupon the schoolmaster went with all speed unto the magistrates, grievously complaining of the injury which they did show unto so excellent and innocent a young man.
Thus Frith, through the help of the schoolmaster, was freely dismissed out of the stocks, and set at liberty without punishment. Albeit this his safety continued not long, through the great hatred and deadly pursuit of Sir Thomas More, who, at that time being chancellor of England, persecuted him both by land and sea, besetting all the ways and havens, yea, and promising great rewards, if any man could bring him any news or tidings of him.
Thus Frith, being on every part beset with troubles, not knowing which way to turn, seeketh for some place to hide him in. Thus fleeting from one place to another, and often changing both his garments and place, yet could he be in safety in no place; no, not long amongst his friends; so that at the last, being traitorously taken, (as ye shall after hear,) he was sent unto the Tower of London, where he had many conflicts with the bishops, but especially in writing with Sir Thomas More.
What dexterity of wit was in him, and excellency of doctrine, it may appear not only by his books which he wrote of the sacrament, but also in them which he entitled Of Purgatory. In the which quarrel he withstood the violence of three most obstinate enemies; that is to say, of Rochester, More, and Rastal, whereof the one by the help of the doctors, the other by wresting of the Scripture, and the third by the help of natural philosophy, had conspired against him. But he, as a Hercules, fighting not against two only, but even with them all three at once, did so overthrow and confound them, that he converted Rastal to his part.
Besides all these commendations of this young man, there was also in him a friendly and prudent moderation in uttering of the truth, joined with a learned godliness; which virtue hath always so much prevailed in the church of Christ, that, without it, all other good gifts of knowledge, be they ever so great, cannot greatly profit, but oftentimes do very much hurt. And would God that all things, in all places, were so free from all kinds of dissension, there were no mention made amongst Christians of Zuinglians and Lutherans, when neither Zuinglius nor Luther died for us; but that we might be all one in Christ. Neither do I think that any thing more grievous could happen unto these worthy men, than their names so to be abused to sects and factions, which so greatly withstood and strove against all factions. Neither do I here discourse which part came nearest unto the truth, neither so rashly intermeddle in this matter, that I will detract any thing from either part, but rather wish of God I might join either part unto the other.
But now, forasmuch as we treat of the story of John Frith, I cannot choose, but must needs earnestly and heartily embrace the prudent and godly moderation which was in that man, who, maintaining this quarrel of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, no less godly than learnedly, (and so as no man in a manner had done it more learnedly and pithily,) yet he did it so moderately, without any contention, that he would never seem to strive against the papists, except he had been driven to it even of necessity. In all other matters; where necessity did not move him to contend, he was ready to grant all things for quietness' sake, as his most modest reason and answers did declare. For when More, disputing in a certain place upon the sacrament, laid against him the authority of Doctor Barnes, for the presence of the body and blood in the sacrament, he answered unto More and his companions, that he would promise under this condition, that if the sentence of Luther and Barnes might be holden as ratified, he would never speak more words of it: for in that point they did both agree with him, that the sacrament was not to be worshipped; and that idolatry being taken away, he was content to permit every man to judge of the sacrament, as God should put into their hearts: for then there remained no more poison, that any man ought or might be afraid of. Wherefore, if they did agree in that which was the chief point of the sacrament, they should easily accord and agree in the rest.
Thus much he wrote, in the treatise entitled The Exile, of Barnes against More; which words of this most meek martyr of Christ, if they would take place in the seditious divisions and factions of these our days, with great ease and little labour men might be brought to a unity in this controversy; and much more concord and love should be in the church, and much less offence given abroad than there is.
But to our story again of John Frith. After he had now sufficiently contended in his writings with More, Rochester, and Rastal, More's son-in-Iaw, he was at last carried to Lambeth, first before the bishop of Canterbury, and afterward unto Croydon, before the bishop of Winchester, to plead his cause. Last of all, he was called before the bishops, in a common assembly at London, where he constantly defended himself, if he might have been heard.
The order of his judgment, with the manner of his examination and the articles which were objected against him, are comprised and set forth by himself in a letter written and sent unto his friends, whilst he was prisoner in the Tower.
A letter of John Frith to his friends, concerning his troubles; wherein, after he had first with a brief preface saluted them, entering then into the matter, thus he writeth:-
"I doubt not, dear brethren, but that it doth some deal vex you, to see the one part have all the words, and freely to speak what they list, and the others to be put to silence, and not be heard indifferently.
But refer your matters unto God, who shortly shall judge after another fashion. In the mean time I have written unto you, as briefly as I may, what articles were objected against me, and what were the principal points of my condemnation, that ye might understand the matter certainly.
"The whole matter of this my examination was comprehended in two special articles, that is to say, Of Purgatory, and Of the Substance of the Sacrament.
"And first of all, as touching purgatory, they inquired of me whether I did believe there was any place to purge the spots and filth of the soul after this life? But I said, that I thought there was no such place: for man (said I) doth consist and is made of two parts, that is to say, of the body and the soul, whereof the one is purged here in this world, by the cross of Christ, which he layeth upon every child that he receiveth; as affliction, worldly oppression, persecution, imprisonment, &c. The last of all, the reward of sin, which is death, is laid upon us: but the soul is purged with the word of God, which we receive through faith, to the salvation both of body and soul. Now if ye can show me a third part of a man besides the body and the soul, I will also grant unto you the third place, which ye do call purgatory. But because ye cannot do this, I must also of necessity deny unto you the bishop of Rome's purgatory. Nevertheless I count neither part a necessary article of our faith, to be believed under pain of damnation, whether there be such a purgatory or no?
"Secondly, They examined me touching the sacrament of the altar, whether it was the body of Christ or no?
"I answered, that I thought it was both Christ's body, and also our body, as St. Paul teacheth us in 1 Cor. x.16. For in that it is made one bread of many corns, it is called our body, which, being divers and many members, are associate and gathered together into one fellowship or body. Likewise of the wine, which is gathered of many clusters of grapes, and is made into one liquor. But the same bread again, in that it is broken, is the body Christ; declaring his body to be broken and delivered unto death, to redeem us from our iniquities.
"Furthermore, in that the sacrament is distributed, it is Christ's body, signifying that as verily as the sacrament is distributed unto us, so verily are Christ's body and the fruit of his passion distributed unto all faithful people.
"In that it is received, it is Christ's body, signifying that as verily as the outward man receiveth the sacrament with his teeth and mouth, so verily doth the inward man, through faith, receive Christ's body and the fruit of his passion, and is as sure of it as of the bread which he eateth.
"Well (said they) dost thou not think that his very natural body, flesh, blood, and bone, is really contained under the sacrament, and there present without all figure or similitude? No, (said I,) I do not so think: notwithstanding I would not that any should count, that I make my saying (which is the negative) any article of faith. For even as I say, that you ought not to make any necessary article of the faith of your part, (which is the affirmative,) so I say again, that we make no necessary article of the faith of our part, but leave it indifferent for all men to judge therein, as God shall open their hearts, and no side to condemn or despise the other, but to nourish in all things brotherly love; and one to bear another's infirmity.
"After this they alleged the place of St. Augustine, where he saith, 'He was carried in his own hands.'
"Whereunto I answered, that St. Augustine was a plain interpreter of himself; for he hath in another place, 'He was carried on as it were in his own hands:' which is a phrase of speech not of one that doth simply affirm, but only of one expressing a thing by a similitude. And albeit that St. Augustine had not thus expounded himself, yet he, writing unto Boniface, doth plainly admonish all men, that the sacraments do represent and signify those things whereof they are sacraments, and many times even of the similitudes of the things themselves they do take their names. And therefore, according to this rule it may be said, he was borne in his own hands, when he bare in his hands the sacrament of his body and blood.
"Then they alleged a place of Chrysostom, which, at the first blush, may seem to make much for them, who, in a certain Homily upon the supper, writeth thus: 'Dost thou see bread and wine? Do they depart from thee into the draught, as other meats do? No, God forbid; for as in wax, when it cometh to the fire, nothing of the substance remaineth or abideth; so likewise think that the mysteries are consumed by the substance of the body,' &c.
"These words I expounded by the words of the same doctor, who, in another Homily, saith on this manner; 'The inward eyes,' saith he, 'as soon as they see the bread, they flee over all creatures, and do not think of the bread that is baked by the baker, but of the bread of everlasting life, which is signified by the mystical bread.' Now confer these places together, and you shall perceive that the last expoundeth the first plainly. For he saith, Dost thou see the bread and wine? I answer by the second, Nay. For the inward eyes, as soon as they see the bread, do pass over all creatures, and do not any longer think upon the bread, but upon him which is signified by the bread. And after this manner he seeth it, and again he seeth it not: for as he seeth it with his outward and carnal eyes, so with his inward eyes he seeth it not; that is to say, regardeth not the bread, or thinketh not upon it, but is otherwise occupied. Even as when we play or do any thing else negligently, we commonly are wont to say, we see not what we do; not that indeed we do not see that which we go about, but because our mind is fixed on some other thing, and doth not attend unto that which the eyes do see.
"In like manner may it be answered unto that which followeth; 'Do they avoid from thee,' saith he, 'into the draught as other meats do?' I will not so say, for other meats, passing through the bowels, after they have of themselves given nourishment unto the body, be voided into the draught: but this is a spiritual meat, which is received by faith, and nourisheth both body and soul unto everlasting life, neither is it at any time avoided as other meats are.
"And as before I said that the external eyes do behold the bread, which the inward eyes, being otherwise occupied, do not behold or think upon, even so our outward man doth digest the bread, and void it into the draught; but the inward man doth neither regard nor think upon it, but thinketh upon the thing itself that is signified by that bread. And therefore Chrysostom, a little before the words which they alleged, saith, 'Lift up your minds and hearts:' whereby he admonisheth us to look upon and consider those heavenly things which are represented and signified by the bread and wine, and not to mark the bread and wine itself.
"Here they said, that was not Chrysostom's mind; but that by this example he declared that there remained no bread nor wine. I answered, that was false: for the example that he taketh tendeth to no other purpose, but to call away our spiritual eyes from the beholding of visible things, and to transport them another way, as if the things that are seen were of no force. Therefore he draweth away our mind from the consideration of these things, and fixeth it upon him which is signified unto us by the. same. The very words which follow, sufficiently declare this to be the true meaning of the author, where he commandeth us to consider all things with our inward eyes; that is to say, spiritually.
"But whether Chrysostom's words do tend either to this or that sense, yet do they indifferently make on our part against our adversaries, which way so-ever we do understand them. For if he thought that the bread and wine do remain, we have no further to travel: but if he meant contrariwise, that they do not remain, but that the natures of the bread and wine are altered, then are the bread and wine falsely named sacraments and mysteries, which can be said in no place to be in the nature of things: for that which is in no place, how can it be a sacrament, or supply the room of a mystery? Finally, if he speak only of the outward forms and shapes, (as we call them,) it is most certain that they do continually remain, and that they by the substance of the body are not consumed in any place: wherefore it must necessarily follow the words of Chrysostom to be understood in such sense as I have declared.
"Here peradventure many would marvel, that forasmuch as the matter touching the substance of the sacrament is separate from the articles of faith, and bindeth no man of necessity either unto salvation or damnation, whether he believe it or not, but rather may be left indifferently unto all men, freely to judge either on the one part or on the other, according to his own mind, so that neither part do contemn or despise the other, but that all love and charity be still holden and kept in this dissension of opinions; what then is the cause, why I would therefore so willingly suffer death? The cause why I die is this: for that I cannot agree with the divines and other head prelates, that it should be necessarily determined to be an article of faith, and that we should believe, under pain of damnation, the substance of the bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the form and shape only not being changed. Which thing if it were most true, (as they shall never be able to prove it by any authority of the Scripture or doctors,) yet shall they not so bring to pass, that that doctrine, were it ever so true, should be holden for a necessary article of faith. For there are many things, both in the Scriptures and other places, which we are not bound of necessity to believe as an article of faith. So it is true, that I was a prisoner and in bonds when I wrote these things, and yet, for all that, I will not hold it as an article of faith, but that you may, without danger of damnation, either believe it, or think the contrary.
"But as touching the cause why I cannot affirm the doctrine of transubstantiation, divers reasons do lead me thereunto: first, for that I do plainly see it to be false and vain, and not to be grounded upon any reason, either of the Scriptures, or of approved doctors. Secondly, for that by my example I would not be an author unto Christians to admit any thing as a matter of faith, more than the necessary points of their creed, wherein the whole sum of our salvation doth consist, especially such things, the belief whereof have no certain argument of authority or reason. I added moreover, that their church (as they call it) hath no such power and authority, that it either ought or may bind us, under the peril of our souls, to the believing of any such articles. Thirdly, because I will not, for the favour of our divines or priests, be prejudicial in this point unto so many nations, of Germans, Helvetians, and others, which, altogether rejecting the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, are all of the same opinion as I am, as well those that take Luther's part, as those that hold with ?colampadius. Which things standing in this case, I suppose there is no man of any upright conscience, which will not allow the reason of my death, which I am put unto for this only cause, that I do not think transubstantiation, although it were true indeed, to be established for an article of faith."
And thus much hitherto as touching the articles and whole disputation of John Frith, which was done with all moderation and uprightness. But when no reason would prevail against the force and cruelty of these furious foes, on the twentieth day of June, A.D. 1533, he was brought before the bishops of London, Winchester, and Lincoln, who, sitting in St. Paul's, on Friday the twentieth day of June, ministered certain interrogatories upon the sacrament of the supper, and purgatory, Unto the said Frith, as is above declared; to the which when he had answered, and showed his mind in form and effect, as by his own words above doth appear, he afterwards subscribed to his answers with his own hand, in these words: "I, Frith, thus do think; and as I think, so have I said, written, taught, and affirmed, and in my books have published."
But when Frith by no means could be persuaded to recant these articles aforesaid, neither be brought to believe that the sacrament is an article of faith, but said, Fiat judicium et justitia; he was condemned by the bishop of London to be burned, and sentence given against him.
This sentence read, the bishop of London directed his letter to Sir Stephen Peacock, mayor of London, and the sheriffs of the same city, for the receiving of the aforesaid John Frith into their charge; who, being so delivered over unto them the fourth day of July, in the year aforesaid, was by them carried into Smithfield to be burned. And when he was tied unto the stake, there it sufficiently appeared with what constancy and courage he suffered death; for when the faggots and fire were put unto him, he willingly embraced the same; thereby declaring with what uprightness of mind he suffered his death for Christ's sake, and the true doctrine, whereof that day he gave, with his blood, a perfect and firm testimony. The wind made his death somewhat the longer, which bare away the flame from him unto his fellow that was tied to his back: but he had established his mind with such patience, God giving him strength, that even as though he had felt no pain in that long torment, he seemed rather to rejoice for his fellow than to be careful for himself.
This truly is the power and strength of Christ, striving and vanquishing in his saints; who sanctify us together with them, and direct us in all things to the glory of his holy name! Amen.
The day before the burning of these worthy men of God, the bishop of London certified King Henry the Eighth of his worthy, yea, rather wolfish, proceeding against these men.
Illustration -- Frith and Hewet at the stake
Andrew Hemet burned with Master Frith.
Andrew Hewet, born in Feversham, in the county of Kent, a young man of the age of four and twenty years, was apprentice with one Master Warren, a tailor in Watling Street. And as it happened that he went upon a holyday into Fleet Street, towards St. Dunstan's, he met with one William Holt, which was foreman with the king's tailor, at that present called Master Malte; and being suspected by the same Holt, which was a dissembling wretch, to be one that favoured the gospel, after a little talk had with him, he went into an honest house about Fleet Bridge, which was a bookseller's house. Then Holt, thinking he had found good occasion to show forth some fruit of his wickedness, sent for certain officers, and searched the house, and finding the said Andrew, apprehended him, and carried him to the bishop's house, where he was cast into irons; and being there a good space, by the means of a certain honest man, he had a file conveyed unto him, wherewith he filed off his irons, and when he spied his time, he got out of the gate. But being a man unskilful to hide himself, for lack of good acquaintance, he went into Smithfield, and there met with one Withers, which was a hypocrite, as Holt was. Which Withers, understanding how he had escaped, and that he knew not whither to go, pretending a fair countenance unto him, willed him to go with him, promising that he should be provided for; and so kept him in the country where he had to do, from Low Sunday till Whitsuntide, and then broughthim to London, to the house of one John Chapman in Hosier Lane beside Smithfield, and there left him by the space of two days.
Then he came to the said Chapman's house again, and brought Holt with him. And when they met with the said Andrew, they seemed as though they meant to do him very much good; and Holt, for his part, said that if he should bring any man in trouble, (as the voice was that he had done the said Andrew,) it were pity but that the earth should open and swallow him up: insomuch that they would needs sup there that night, and prepared meat of their own charges. At night they came, and brought certain guests with them, because they would have the matter to seem as though it had come out by others. When they had supped, they went their way, and Holt took out of his purse two groats, and gave them to the said Andrew, and embraced him in his arms. As they were gone out, there came in one John Tibauld, which was banished from his own house by an injunction, for he had been four times in prison for Christ's cause. And within an hour after that Holt and Withers were gone, the bishop's chancellor, and one called Sergeant Weaver, came, and brought with them the watch, and searched the house, where they found the said John Chapman and the before-named Andrew, and John Tibauld, whom they bound with ropes which Sergeant Weaver had brought with him, and so carried them to the bishop's house: but Andrew Hewet they sent unto the Lollard's Tower, and kept Chapman and Tibauld asunder, watched by two priests' servants. The next day Bishop Stokesley came from Fulham, and after they were examined with a few threatening words, Chapman was committed to the stocks, with this threat, that he should tell another tale, or else he should sit there till his heels did drop off, &c.: and Tibauld was shut up in a close chamber; but, by God's provision, he was well delivered out of prison, albeit he could not enjoy his house and land because of the bishop's injunction, but was fain to sell all that he had in Essex; for the tenor of his injunction was, that he should not come within seven miles of his own house. And the aforesaid Chapman, after five weeks' imprisonment, (whereof three weeks he sat in the stocks,) by much suit made unto the lord chancellor, which at that time was Lord Audley, after many threatenings, was delivered: but the said Andrew Hewet, after long and cruel imprisonment, was condemned to death, and burned with John Frith. The examination of Hewet here followeth.
On the twentieth day of the month of April, Andrew Hewet was brought before the chancellor of the bishop of London, where was objected against him, that he believed the sacrament of the altar, after the consecration, to be but a signification of the body of Christ, and that the host consecrated was not the very body of Christ. Now, forasmuch as this article seemed heinous unto them, they would do nothing in it without the consent of learned counsel: whereupon the bishop of London, associated with the bishops of Lincoln and Winchester, called him again before them; where, it being demanded of him what he thought as touching the sacrament of the last supper; he answered, "Even as John Frith doth." Then said one of the bishops unto him, "Dost thou not believe that it is really the body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary?"
"So," saith he, "do not I believe." "Why not?" said the bishop. "Because," said he, "Christ commanded me not to give credit rashly unto all men, who say, Behold, here is Christ, and there is Christ; for many false prophets shall rise up, saith the Lord."
Then certain of the bishops smiled at him; and Stokesley, the bishop of London, said, "Why, Frith is a heretic, and already judged to be burned; and except thou revoke thine opinion, thou shalt be burned also with him." "Truly," saith he, "I am content therewithal." Then the bishop asked him if he would forsake his opinions; whereunto he answered, that he would do as Frith did: whereupon' he was sent unto the prison to Frith, and afterwards they were carried together to the fire. The bishops used many persuasions to allure this good man from the truth, to follow them; but he, manfully persisting in the truth, would not recant. Wherefore on the fourth day of July, in the afternoon, he was carried into Smithfield with Frith, and there burned.
When they were at the stake, one Doctor Cook, a parson in London, openly admonished all the people, that they should in no wise pray for them, no more than they would do for a dog; at which words Frith, smiling, desired the Lord to forgive him. These his words did not a little move the people unto anger, and not without good cause. Thus these two blessed martyrs committed their souls into the hands of God.