Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 248. DR. RIDLEY DISPUTES ON THE SCARAMENT.

248. DR. RIDLEY DISPUTES ON THE SCARAMENT.

            It was declared a little before, how Dr. Ridley was had from Framlingham to the Tower; where being in durance, and invited to the lieutenant's table, he had certain talk or conference with Secretary Bourn, Master Fecknam, and others, concerning the controversies in religion; the sum whereof, as it was penned with his own hand, hereafter ensueth.

 

The sum and effect of the communication between Dr. Ridley and Secretary Bourn, with others, at the lieutenant's table in the Tower.

            "Master Thomas of Bridges said at his brother Master Lieutenant's board, I pray you, Master Doctors, for my learning, tell me what a heretic is.' Master Secretary Bourn said, 'I will tell you who is a heretic: whoso stubbornly and stiffly maintaineth an untruth--he is a heretic.' 'You mean, sir,' said I, an untruth in matters of religion, and concerning our faith.' 'Yea, that is true,' said he; 'and in this we are soon agreed.' Then said Master Fecknam, (whom they called Master Dean of Paul's,) sitting at the upper end of the table, I will tell you by St. Augustine who is a heretic: Qui adulandi principibus vel lucri gratia falsas opiniones gignit vel sequitur, hæreticus est, saith St. Augustine. And then he Englished the same. 'Sir,' said I, 'I ween St. Augustine addeth the third number, which is, vel vanæ gloriæ causa.' 'You say even true, Master Doctor,' said he. And thus far we did agree all three.

            "Master Fecknam began again to say, 'Whoso doth not believe what the Scripture affirmeth, but will obstinately maintain the contrary, he is hæreticus; as in the sacrament of the altar, Matthew doth affirm there to be Christ's body, Mark doth affirm it, Luke affirmeth it, Paul affirmeth it, and none denieth it: therefore, to hold the contrary, is heresy. It is the same body and flesh that was born of the Virgin; and this is confirmed by unity, antiquity, and universality. For none before Berengarius did ever doubt of this, and he was a heretic, as Master Doctor there knoweth full well: I do take to witness his own conscience,' said he.

            "'Marry sir,' said Master Secretary, 'Master Fecknam hath spoken well. These he great matters, unity, antiquity, and universality. Do you not think so, Master Doctor?' said he to me.

            "Here, while I strained courtesy, and pretended no willingness to talk; said one of the commissioners, 'peradventure Master Ridley doth agree with Master Fecknam; and then there needs not much debating of the matter.'

            "'Sir,' said I, 'in some things I do and shall agree with him, and in some things which he hath spoken, to be plain, I do not agree with him at all. Masters,' said I, ye be, as I understand, the queen's commissioners here, and if ye have commission to examine me in these matters, I shall declare unto you plainly my faith; if ye have not, then I shall pray you either to give me leave to speak my mind freely, or else to hold my peace.'

            "'There is none here,' said Master Secretary, 'that doth not favour you:' and then every man showed what favour they bare towards me, and how glad they would be of an agreement.

            "But as I strained to have licence of them in plain words to speak my mind, some thought they granted me it but vix or ægre. Well, at the last I was content to take it for licensed, and so began to talk.

            "To Master Fecknam's arguments of the manifold affirmation where no denial was, I answered, 'Where is a multitude of affirmations in Scripture, and where is one affirmation, all is one concerning the truth of the matter: for that which any one of the evangelists spake, inspired by the Holy Ghost, was as true as that which is spoken of them all. It is as true that John saith of Christ, I am the door of the sheep, as if all had said it. For it is not in Scripture as in witness of men, where the number is credited more than one, because it is uncertain with what spirit he doth speak.' And whereas Master Fecknam spake of so many, affirming without any negation, &c., 'Sir,' said I, 'all they do affirm the thing which they meant. Now if ye take their words, to leave their meaning -- then do they affirm what ye take, but not what they meant. Sir,' said I, 'if, in talk with you, I should so utter my mind in words, that ye, by the same, do and may plainly perceive my meaning, and could, if you would be captious, cavil at my words, and writhe them to another sense, I would think ye were no gentle companions to talk with, except ye would take my words as ye did perceive I did mean.'

            "'Marry,' quoth Master Secretary, 'we should else do you plain injury and wrong.'

            "Master Fecknam, perceiving whereunto my talk went, 'Why,' quoth he, 'what circumstances can ye show me, that shall move to think of any other sense, than as the words plainly say, This is my body which shall be betrayed for you?'

            "Sir,' said I, 'even the next sentence that followeth, viz., Do this in my remembrance. And also by what reason ye say the bread is turned into Christ's carnal body, by the same I may say that it is turned into his mystical body. For as that saith of it, This is my body which shall be betrayed for you: so Paul, which spake by Christ's Spirit, saith, We, being many, are all but one bread and one body, inasmuch as we are partakers of one bread.'

            "'Here he calleth one bread, one loaf,' said Master Secretary.

            "'Yea,' said I, 'one loaf, one bread: all is one with me.'

            "'But what say ye,' quoth Master Secretary, of the universality, antiquity, and unity, that Master Fecknam did speak of?'

            "'I assure you,' said I, 'I think them matters weighty, and to be considered well. As for unity, the truth is before God, I do believe it, and embrace it, so it be with verity, and joined to our Head, Christ, and such a one as Paul speaketh of, saving, One faith, one God, one baptism. And for antiquity, I am also persuaded that to be true which Irenæus saith, 'That which is first is true.' In our religion Christ's faith was first truly taught by Christ himself, by his apostles, and by many good men that from the beginning did succeed next unto them; and for this controversy of the sacrament, I am persuaded that those old writers, which wrote before the controversy and the usurping of the see of Rome, do all agree, if they be well understood in this truth.'

            "'I am glad to hear,' said Master Secretary, 'that you do so well esteem the doctors of the church.'

            "'Now as for universality,' said I, it may have two meanings; one to understand that to be universal, which from the beginning in all ages hath been allowed; another to understand universality for the multitude of our age, or of any other singular age.'

            "'No, no,' saith Master Secretary, 'these three do always agree, and where there is one, there is all the rest.' And here he and I changed many words; and finally, to be short, in this matter we did not agree.

            "'There was none,' quoth Master Fecknam, before Berengarius, Wickliff, and Huss; and now, in our days, Carolostadius and Œcolampadius. Carolostadius saith, 'Christ pointed to his own body, and not to the sacrament, and said, Hoc est corpus meum.' And Melancthon writeth to one Miconius (Miconius said I) these or the like words: 'I can find no grounded reason, to cause me to dissent from the belief of our fore-elders.'

            "Thus when he had spoken at length, with many other words more; 'Sir,' said I, 'it is certain that others, before these, have written of this matter: not by the way only, and obiter: as do for the most all the old writers, but even ex professo; and their whole books entreat of it alone; as Bertram.'

            "'Bertram,' said the secretary, 'what man was he? and who was he? and how do you know?' &c., with many questions.

            "'Sir,' quoth I, 'I have read his book. He propoundeth the same which is now in controversy, and answereth so directly, that no man may doubt but that he affirmeth, that the substance of bread remaineth still in the sacrament; and he wrote unto Charlemagne.'

            "'Marry,' quoth he, mark, for there is a matter. He wrote,' quoth he, 'to Henry, and not 'to Charles;' for no author maketh any such mention of Bertram.'

            "'Yes,' quoth I, 'Trithemius, in Catalogo illustrium Scriptorum, speaketh of him. Trithemius was but of late time; but he speaketh,' quoth I, 'of them that were of antiquity.' Here, after much talk of Bertram, 'What authors have ye,' quoth Master Secretary, 'to make of the sacrament a figure?'

            "'Sir,' quoth I, 'ye know, I think, that Tertullian in plain words speaketh thus: 'This is my body; that is to say, a figure of my body.' And Gelasius saith plainly, that 'the substance of bread remaineth.' And Origen saith likewise, 'That which is sanctified, as touching the matter or substance, passeth away into the draught.' This when I had Englished, Master Secretary said to me, 'You know very well as any man,' &c. And here, if I would, I might have been set in a foolish paradise of his commendation of my learning, and 'that I was a man of much reading.' But this I would not take at his hand. He set one not up so high, but I brought myself as low again: and here was much ado.

            "'As for Melancthon,' quoth I, 'whom Master Fecknam spake of, I marvel that ye will allege him, for we are more nigh an agreement here in England, than the opinion of Melancthon is to you: for in this point we all agree here, that there is in the sacrament but one material substance, and Melancthon, as I ween, saith there are two.'

            "'Ye say truth,' quoth Master Secretary; 'Melancthon's opinion is so. But, I pray you, have ye read that the sacrament was in old time so reverenced, that many were then forbidden to be present at the ministration thereof -- catechumeni,' quoth he, 'and many more?'

            "'Truth, sir,' quoth I, there were some called audientes, some pœnitentes, some catechumeni, and some energumeni, which were commanded to depart.'

            "'Now,' quoth he, 'then; and how can ye then make but a figure or a sign of the sacrament, as that book doth, which is set forth in my Lord of Canterbury's name? I wis, ye can tell who made it. Did not ye make it?' And here was much murmuring of the rest, as though they would have given me the glory of the writing of that book; which yet was said, of some there, to contain the most heinous heresy that ever was.'

            "'Master Secretary,' quoth I, 'that book was made of a great learned man, and him which is able to do the like again. As for me, I assure you (be not deceived in me) I was never able to do or write any such-like thing. He passeth me, no less than the learned master his young scholar.'

            "Now, here every man would have his saying, which I pass over, not much material for to tell. 'But, sir,' quoth I,' methinks it is not charitably done, to bear the people in hand, that any man doth so lightly esteem the sacrament, as to make it but a figure; for that but maketh it a bare figure without any more profit; which that book doth often deny, as appeareth to the reader most plainly.'

            "'Yes,' quoth he, 'that they do.'

            "'Sir, no,' quoth I, 'of a truth; and as for me, I assure you I make no less of the sacrament than thus: I say, whosoever receiveth the sacrament, he receiveth therewith either life or death.'

            "'No,' quoth Master Secretary, Scripture saith not so.'

            "'Sir,' quoth I, 'although not in the same sound of words, yet it doth in the same sense; and St. Augustine saith, in the sound of words also: for Paul saith, The bread which we break, is it not the partaking or fellowship of the body of Christ? And St. Augustine, 'Eat life, drink life.'

            "Then said Master Pope, 'What can ye make of it, when ye say, 'There is not the real body of Christ,' which I do believe, &c.; and I pray God I may never believe other. How can it bring (as ye say) either life or death, when Christ's body is not there? '

            "'Sir,' quoth I, 'when you hear God's word truly preached, if you do believe it, and abide in it, ye shall and do receive life withal; and if ye do not believe it, it doth bring unto you death: and yet Christ's body is still in heaven, and not carnal -- in every preacher's mouth.'

            "'I pray you tell me,' quoth he, 'how can you answer to this, Which shall be given for you? Was the figure of Christ's body given for us?'

            "'No, sir,' quoth I, 'but the very body itself, whereof the sacrament is a sacramental figure.'

            "'How say you then,' quoth he, to Which shall be given for you?"

            "'Forsooth,' quoth I, 'Tertullian's exposition maketh it plain; for he saith, 'The body is a figure of the body.' Now put to, Which shall be given for you, and it agreeth exceeding well.'

            "'In faith,' quoth he, 'I would give forty pound that ye were of a good opinion; for I assure you, I have heard you, and had an affection to you.'

            "'I thank you, Master Pope, for your heart and mind; and ye know,' quoth I, 'I were a very fool if I would, in this matter, dissent from you, if that in my conscience the truth did not enforce me so to do. For I wis (as ye do perceive, I trow) it is somewhat out of my way, if I would esteem worldly gain.'

            "'What say ye,' quoth he, 'to Cyprian? Doth he not say plainly, 'The bread which the Lord did deliver being changed, not according to the form, but according to the nature thereof, by the omnipotent word, is made flesh?'

            "'True, sir, so he doth say; and I answer even the same which once, by chance, I preached at Paul's Cross in a sermon, for the which I have been as unjustly and as untruly reported of, as any poor man hath been. For there I, speaking of the sacrament, and inveighing against them that esteemed it no better than a piece of bread, told even the same thing of penitents, hearers, catechumens, that I spake of before: and I bade them depart as unworthy to hear the mystery. And then I said to those that be holy: Cyprian the martyr shall tell you how it is that Christ calleth it, saying, 'Bread is the body, meat, drink, flesh; because that unto this material substance is given the property of the thing whereof it beareth the name.' And this place then took I to utter, as the time would then suffer, that the material substance of bread doth remain.

            "Master Fecknam (which, as is reported to me, did belie me openly in the same matter at Paul's Cross) heard all this my talk, as red as scarlet in his face, and herein answered me not a word.

            "'You do know well,' quoth Master Secretary, that Origen and Tertullian were not catholic, but erred.'

            "'Sir,' quoth I, 'there is no one of all the doctors that is holden in all points, but is thought to have erred in some things. But yet I never heard that it was either laid to Origen's charge or to Tertullian's, that ever they were thought to have erred in this matter of the sacrament.'

            "'What,' quoth Master Cholmley, late chief justice, 'doth not Christ plainly say, that it is his very flesh, and his very blood, and we must needs eat him, or else we can have no life?' 'Sir,' quoth I, 'if you will hear how St. Augustine expoundeth that place, you shall perceive that you are in a wrong box.' And then I began to tell St. Augustine's mind in his book De Doctrina Christiana. 'Yea, yea,' quoth Master Secretary, that is true; St. Augustine doth take it figuratively indeed.'

            "'Forty years ago,' quoth Master Fecknam, all were of one opinion in this matter.'

            "'Forty years ago,' quoth I, 'all held that the bishop of Rome was supreme head of the universal church.'

            "'What then?' was Master Fecknam beginning to say, &c.; but Master Secretary took the tale, and said, 'That was but a positive law.'

            "'A positive law?' quoth I; 'no, sir, he would not have it so: for it is in his decrees, that he challenged it by Christ's own word. For his decree saith, 'The church of Rome was advanced above all other churches in the world, not by any synodical constitutions, nor by any councils, but by the lively voice of the Lord, according as the Lord said to Peter, Thou art Peter,' &c. And in another place he entreateth, 'Thou art Cephas, that is to say, the head.'

            "'Tush! it was not counted an article,' quoth Master Secretary,' of our faith.'

            "'Yes,' said I, 'if ye call that an article of our faith, which is believed under pain of damnation. For he saith, We do absolutely determine, declare, and pronounce, that every creature is subject to the obedience of the bishop of Rome, upon necessity of salvation.'

            "And here, when we spake of laws and decrees, Master Roger Cholmley thought himself much wronged, that he could not be suffered to speak, the rest were so ready to interrupt him. And then he up and told a long tale, what laws were of kings in England made against the bishop of Rome; and was vehement to tell how they alway of the clergy did fly to him. And here, because he seemed to speak of many things beside our purpose, whereof we spake before, he was answered of his own fellows, and I let them talk.

            "Finally, we departed in peace, and Master Secretary promised in the end, that of their talk there should come to me no harm. And after I had made my moan for lack of my books, he said, they were all once given him: But since I know,' said he, 'who hath them now, write me the names of such as you would have, and I will speak for you the best I can.'"

 

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