John Frith on the Eucharist

The reformer John Frith was executed in 1533. A Book Made by John Frith, Prisoner in the Tower of London, Answering unto Master More's Letter . . . Concerning the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ was published in that year and reissued in revised form in 1546, a few weeks before Anne Askew was executed.

 

Our prelates believe that in the sacrament remaineth no bread, but that it is turned into the natural body of Christ, both flesh, blood, and bones. Frith sayeth, that it is no article of our creed, and therefore let them believe it that will. And he thinketh that there remaineth bread still. And that he proveth three manner of ways.

First, by the Scripture of Paul, which calleth it bread, saying, "The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ? For we, though we be many, are yet one body and one bread, as many as are partakers of one bread." >> note 1 And again he sayeth, "As often as ye eat of this bread or drink of this cup, you shall show the Lord's death, until he come." >> note 2 And Luke calleth it bread, saying, "They continued in the fellowship of the Apostles, and in the breaking of the bread and prayer." >> note 3 Also Christ called the cup the fruit of the vine, saying, "I shall not from henceforward drink of the fruit of the vine, until I drink that new in the kingdom of my Father." >> note 4

Furthermore, nature doth teach you that both the bread and wine continue in their nature. For the bread moldeth if it be kept long, yea, and the worms breed in it. And the poor mouse will run away with it, and eat it. Which are evidence enough that there remaineth bread. Also the wine, if it were reserved, would wax sour, as they confess themselves. And therefore they housel >> note 5 the lay people but with one kind >> note 6 only, because the wine cannot continue nor be reserved to have ready at hand when need were. And surely, as if there remained no bread, it could not mold, nor wax full of worms, even so, if there remained no wine, it could not wax sour. And therefore it is but false doctrine that our prelates so long have taught and published.


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