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Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Disputation at Oxford Between Dr. Smith, With His Other Colleagues and Doctors, and Bishop Ridley.

The next day following, April 12th, was brought forth Dr. Ridley to dispute in the divinity school; against whom was set Dr. Smith to be principal opponent. This Dr. Smith had often changed his religious opinions; but not from conviction of conscience, as appears from his recantation, and also from his letter to Cranmer in king Edwards's time. The rest of his opponents were Drs. Weston, Tresham, Oglethorpe, Glin, Seton, Cole, Watson; masters Harpsfield, Ward, Pie, Harding, Curtop, and Fecknam: to all of whom he answered very learnedly. Dr. Weston, the prolocutor, commenced the disputation, with the following speech:--

"Good Christian people and brethren, we have begun this day our school, by God's good speed I trust; and are entering into a controversy. whereof no question ought to be moved, concerning the verity of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ in the eucharist. Christ is true, who said the words. The words are true which he spake, yea, truth itself that cannot fail. Let us therefore pray into God to send down upon us his Holy Spirit, which is the interpreter of his word; which may purge away errors, and give light that verity may appear. Let us also ask leave and liberty of the church to permit the truth received to be called this day in question without any prejudice to the same. Your parts thereof shall be to implore the assistance of Almighty God, to pray for the prosperity of the queen's majesty, and to give us quiet and attentive ears. Now go to your question."

Dr. Smith then said--"This day, right learned master Doctor, some questions are propounded, whereof no controversy among Christians ought to be moved. They are these--Whether the natural body of Christ our Saviour, conceived of the virgin Mary, and offered for man's redemption upon the cross, is verily and really in the sacrament by virtue of God's word spoken by the priests. Whether in the sacrament after the words of consecration, there be any other substance than the body and blood of Christ? Whether in the mass there is the sacrifice of Christ propitiatory. Touching these questions, although you have publicly declared your judgement on Saturday last; yet I will again demand your answer on the first question; upon which I stand here now to learn what may be answered."

Dr. Ridley then addressed the convocation as follows without any material interruption:

"I received of you the other day, right worshipful Mr. Prolocutor, and you my reverend masters, commissioners from the queen's majesty and her honourable council, three propositions; whereunto ye commanded me to prepare against this day, what I thought good to answer concerning the same.

"Now whilst I weighed with myself how great a charge of the Lord's flock was of late committed unto me, for which I am certain I must once render an account to my Lord God (and how soon he only knoweth) and that moreover by the commandment of the apostle Peter, I ought to be ready always to give a reason of the hope that is in me, with meekness and reverence, unto every one that shall demand the same: besides this, considering my duty to the church of Christ, and to your worships, being commissioners by public authority, I determined with myself to obey your commandment, and so openly to declare unto you my mind touching the aforesaid propositions. And albeit, plainly to confess unto you the truth of these things ye now demand of me, I have thought otherwise in times past than now I do, yet (I call God to record upon my soul, I lie not) I have not altered my judgement, as now it is, wither by constraint of any man or law, wither for the dread of any dangers of this world, either for any hope of commodity; but only for the love of the truth revealed unto me by the grace of God (as I am undoubtedly persuaded) in his holy word, and in the reading of the ancient fathers.

"These things I do rather recite at this present, because it may happen to some of you hereafter, as in times past it hath done to me: I mean, if ye think otherwise of the matters propounded in these propositions than I now do, God may open them unto you in time to come. But howsoever it shall be, I will in a few words do that which I think ye all expect I should; that is, as plainly as I can, I will declare my judgement herein. Howbeit, of this I would ye were not ignorant, that I will not indeed willingly speak in any point against God's word, or dissent in any one jot from the same, or from the rules of faith, or the christian religion; which rules that same most sacred word of God prescribeth to the church of Christ, whereunto I now and for ever submit myself and all my doings. And because the matter I have now taken in hand is weighty, and ye all well know how unprepared I am to handle it accordingly, as well for lack of time, as also of books; therefore here I protest, that I will publicly this day require of you that it may be lawful for me concerning all mine answers, explications, and confirmations, to add or diminish whatsoever shall seem hereafter more convenient and meet for the purpose, through more sound judgement, better deliberation, and more exact trial of every particular thing. Having now, by the way of preface and protestation, spoken these few words, I will come to the answer of the propositions propounded unto me, and so to the most brief explication and confirmation of mine answers."

The First Proposition.

In the sacrament of the altar, by the virtue of God's word spoken of the priest, the natural body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, and his natural blood, are really present under the forms of bread and wine.

Ridley. In matters appertaining to God we may not speak according to the sense of man, nor of the world: therefore, this proposition or conclusion is framed after another manner of phrase, or kind of speech, than the scripture useth. Again, it is very obscure and dark, by means of sundry words of doubtful signification. And being taken in the sense which the schoolmen teach, and at this time the church of Rome doth defend, it is false and erroneous, and plainly contrary to the doctrine which is according to godliness. How far the diversity and newness of the phrase in all this first proposition is from the phrase of the holy scripture, and that in every part almost, it is so plain and evident to any one who is but meanly exercised in holy writ, that I need not now (especially in this company of learned men) spend any time therein, except the same shall be required of me hereafter.

"First, there is a double sense in these words, By virtue of God's word, for it is doubtful what word of God this is, whether it be that which is read in the evangelists, or in St. Paul, or any other. And if it be that which is in the evangelists, or in St. Paul, what that is. If it be in none of them, then how it may be known to be God's word, and of such virtue that it should be able to work so great a matter.

"Again, there is a doubt of these words, of the priest, whether no man may be called a priest, but he which hath authority to make a propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and the dead; and how it may be proved that this authority was committed of God to any man, but to Christ alone. It is likewise doubted after what order the sacrificing priest shall be, whether after the order of Aaron, or else after the order of Melchisedek. For as far as I know, the holy scriptures doth allow no more.

"Moreover, there is ambiguity in this word really, whether it be taken as the logicians term it "transcendenter," that is, most generally, and so it may signify any manner of thing which belongeth to the body of Christ, by any means: after which sort we also grant Christ's body to be really in the sacrament of the Lord's supper; or whether it be taken to signify the very same thing, having body, life, and soul, which was assumed and taken by the word of God, into the unity of person. In which sense, seeing the body of Christ is really in Heaven, because of the true manner of his body, it may not be said to be here on the earth.

"There is yet a further doubtfulness in these words, under the forms of bread and wine, whether the forms be there taken to signify the only accidental and outward shows of bread and wine; or therewithal the substantial natures thereof, which are to be seen by their qualities, and perceived by exterior senses. Now the error and falseness of the proposition, after the sense of the Roman church and schoolmen, may hereby appear, in that they affirm the bread to be transubstantiated and changed to the flesh assumed of the word of God, and that, as they say, by virtue of the word which they have devised by a certain number of words, and cannot be found in any of the evangelists, or in St. Paul; and so they gather that Christ's body is really contained in the sacrament of the altar. Which position is grounded upon the foundation of the transubstantiation; which foundation is monstrous, against reason, and destroyeth the analogy or proportion of the sacraments: and therefore this proposition also, which is builded upon this rotten foundation, is false, erroneous, and to be counted as a detestable heresy of the sacramentaries.

"There ought no doctrine to be established in the church of God, which dissenteth from the word of God, from the rule of faith, and draweth with it many absurdities that cannot be avoided. But this doctrine of the first proposition is such: therefore it ought not to be established and maintained in the church of God.

"The major, or first part of my argument, is plain; and the minor, or second part, is proved thus:-This doctrine maintaineth a real, corporeal, and carnal presence of Christ's flesh, assumed and taken of the word, to be in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and that not by virtue and grace only, but also by the whole essence and substance of the body and flesh of Christ. But such a presence disagreeth from God's word, from the rule of faith, and cannot but draw with it many absurdities. Therefore, the second part is true. The former part of this argument is manifest, and the latter may yet further be confirmed thus: First of all, this presence is contrary to many places of the Holy Scripture. Secondly, it varieth from the articles of the faith. Thirdly, it destroyeth and taketh away the institution of the Lord's supper. Fourthly, it maketh precious things common to profane and ungodly persons; for it casteth that which is holy unto dogs, and pearls unto swine. Fifthly, it forceth men to maintain many monstrous miracles, without necessity and authority of God's word. Sixthly, it giveth occasion to the heretics who erred concerning the two natures in Christ to defend their heresies thereby. Seventhly, it falsifieth the sayings of the godly fathers; it falsifieth also the Catholic faith of the church, which the apostles taught, the martyrs confirmed, and the faithful, as one of the fathers saith, do retain and keep until this day. Wherefore the second part of mine argument is true."

The Second Proposition.

After the consecration there remaineth on substance of bread and wine, neither any other substance, than the substance of God and man.

Ridley. The second conclusion is mainifestly false, directly against the word of God, the nature of the sacrament, and the most evident testimonies of the godly fathers; and it is the rotten foundation of the other two conclusions propounded by you, both of the first, and also of the third. I will not therefore now tarry upon this answer, being contented with that which is already added before to the answer of the first proposition.

"It is very plain by the word of God, that Christ did give bread unto his disciples, and called it his body. But the substance of bread is another manner of substance, than is the substance of Christ's body, God and man. Therefore the conclusion is false. That which Christ took, on which he gave thanks, and which be brake, he gave to his disciples, and called his body. But he took bread, gave thanks on bread, and brake bread. Therefore the first part is true. And it is confirmed with the authorities of the fathers, Irene, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Epiphanius, Jerome, Augustine, Theodoret, Cyril, Rabanus, and Bede. Whose places I will take upon me to shew most manifest in this behalf, if I may be suffered to have my books, as my request is.

"We may no more believe bread to be transubstantiate into the body of Christ, than the wine into his blood. The circumstances of the scripture, the analogy and proportion of the sacraments, and the testimony of the faithful fathers, ought to rule us in taking the meaning of the holy Scripture touching the sacrament: and they most effectually and plainly prove a figurative speech in the words of the Lord's supper. Therefore, a figurative sense and meaning is specially to be received in these words, 'This is my body.'-The circumstances of the Scripture are: 'Do this in remembrance of me.' 'As oft as ye shall eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, ye shall show forth the Lord's death.' 'Let a man prove himself, and so eat of this bread, and drink of this cup.' 'They came together to break bread; and they continued in breaking of bread.' 'The bread which we bread,' etc. 'For we being many, are all one bread,' etc."

The Third Proposition.

In the mass is the lively sacrifice of the church, propitiable and available for the sins as well of the quick as of the dead.

Ridley. I answer to this third proposition as I did to the first; and moreover I say, that being taken in such a sense as the words seem to import, it is not only erroneous, but withal so much to the derogation and defacing of the death and passion of Christ, that I judge it may and ought most worthily to be counted wicked and blasphemous against the most precious blood of our Saviour Christ.

"Concerning the Romish mass which you use at this day, or the lively sacrifice thereof, propitiatory and available for the sins of the quick and the dead, the holy scripture has not so much as one syllable. There is ambiguity in the name mass, what it signifieth, and whether at this day there be any such indeed as the ancient fathers used; seeing that now there be neither Catechists nor Penitents to be sent away. And then as touching these words, the lively sacrifice of the church, there is doubt whether they are to be understood figuratively and sacramentally, or properly and without any figure; of which manner there was but one only sacrifice, and that once offered, namely upon the altar of the cross. Moreover, in these words, as well as, it may be doubted whether they be spoken in mockery, as men are wont to say in sport, of a foolish and ignorant person, that he is apt as well in conditions as in knowledge; being apt in neither of them. Finally, there is doubt in the word propitiable, whether it signify here that which taketh away sin, or that which may be made available for the taking away of sin; that is to say, whether it is to be taken in the active, or in the passive signification."

The following is an abridged form of Bishop Ridley's argument on the sacrifice of atonement. "No sacrifice ought to be done, but where the priest is meet to offer the same. All other priests are unmeet to offer propitiatory sacrifices, save only Christ. Therefore, no other priests ought to sacrifice for sin, but Christ alone.

"After that eternal redemption is found and obtained, there needeth no more daily offering for the same. But Christ coming an high Priest, found and obtained for us eternal redemption. Therefore, there needeth now no more daily oblation for the sins of the quick and the dead. All remissions of sins cometh only by shedding of blood. In the mass there is no shedding of blood. Therefore, in the mass there is no remission of sins; and so it followeth also that there is no propitiatory sacrifice. In the mass, the passion of Christ is not in verity, but in a mystery representing the same. Where Christ suffereth not, there is he not offered in verity: for the apostle saith, 'Not that he might offer up himself oftentimes-for then must he have suffered oftentimes since the beginning of the world.' And again-'Christ appeared once in the latter end of the world, to put sin to flight by the offering up of himself. And as it is appointed to all men that they shall once die, and then cometh the judgment; even so Christ was once offered, to take away the sins of many. And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.' Where there is any sacrifice that can make the comers thereunto perfect, there ought men to cease from offering any more expiatory and propitiatory sacrifices. But in the New Testament there is one only sacrifice now already long since offered, which is able to make the comers thereto perfect for ever. Therefore, in the New Testament they ought to cease from offering any propitiatory sacrifices."

Dr. Smith, the principal opponent of Ridley, now drew the holy bishop into a most unprofitable controversy on the real presence. Scarcely an idea occurred which has not been more than once before the reader already. On which side the truth lay, may be seen from a few of Ridley's answers.

"You import as though I had made a strong argument by Christ's going up into heaven. But however my argument is made, you collect it not rightly. For it doth not only rest upon his ascension, but upon his abiding there also.-Of Christ's real presence there may be a double understanding: if you take the real presence of Christ according to the real and corporeal substance which he took of the virgin, that presence being in heaven, cannot be on the earth also. But if you mean a real presence, according to some thing that appertaineth to Christ's body, certainly the ascension and abiding in heaven hinder not at all that presence. Wherefore Christ's body after that manner is here present to us in the Lord's supper; by grace I say, as Epiphanius speaketh it.-I do not straightly tie Christ up in heaven, that he may not come into the earth at his pleasure. For when he will, he may come down from heaven, and be on the earth, as it liketh himself. Howbeit, I do affirm, that it is not possible for him to be both in heaven and earth at one time. "I do not bind Christ in heaven so straitly. I see you go about to beguile me with your equivocations. Such equivocations are to be distinguished. If you mean by his sitting in heaven, to reign with his Father, he may be both in heaven and also on earth. But if you understand his sitting to be after a corporeal manner of sitting, so is he always permanent in heaven. For Christ to be corporeal here on earth, when corporeally he is resident in heaven, is clearly contrary to the holy scriptures, as Austin saith; 'The body of Christ is in heaven, but his truth is dispersed in every place.' Yet I do not deny that Christ was seen, even here on earth, after he had risen. I account this a sound and firm argument to prove the resurrection. Whether they saw him in heaven or on earth, it maketh no great matter. Both ways the argument is of like strength. For whether he were seen in heaven, or whether he was seen on earth, either maketh sufficiently for the matter. Certain it is, he rose again: for he could not have been seen, unless he had risen again.

"He that found the means for Stephen to behold him in heaven, even he could bring to pass well enough, that Paul might hear him out of heaven.--I grant he was seen visibly and corporeally: but yet have you not proved that he was seen in earth.-Moreover, I say, that Christ was seen of men of earth after his ascension it is certain: for he was seen of Stephen; he was seen also of Paul. But whether he descended unto the earth, or whether he being in heaven did reveal or manifest himself to Paul, when Paul was rapt into the third heaven, I know that some contend about it: and the Scripture, as far as I have read or heard, doth not determine it. Wherefore we cannot but judge uncertainly of those things which be uncertain."

Smith. We have Egesippus and Linus against you, which testify that Christ appeared corporeally on the earth to Peter after his ascension. Peter overcome with the requests and mournings of the people, which desired him to get him out of the city, because of Nero's lying in wait for him, began without company to convey himself away from thence: and when he was come to the gate, he seeth Christ come to meet him, and worshipping him, he said, "Master, whither walk you?" Christ answered, "I am come again to be crucified." Linus, writing of the passion of Peter, hath the self-same story. St. Ambrose hath the same likewise, and also Abdias, scholar to the apostles, who saw Christ before his ascending in heaven. With what face therefore dare you affirm it to be a thing uncertain, which these men do manifestly witness to have been done?

Ridley suggested the uncertainty of this account; at the same time maintaining that even its certainty would not make against him. "I account not these men's reports so sure as the canonical scriptures. But if at any time Christ had to any man appeared here on the earth after his ascension, that doth not disprove my saying. For I go not about to tie Christ up in fetters; but that he may be seen upon the earth according to his divine pleasure, whensoever it pleaseth him. But we affirm, that it is contrary to the nature of his manhood, and the true manner of his body, that he should be together and at one instant both in heaven and earth, according to his corporeal substance."

Harpsfield now took up the papal cause against Ridley, and endeavoured to confound him by means of Chedsey's famous argument with Mr. Philpot, respecting the bequest of Elijah's mantle and spirit to his venerable successor in office. Of course the authority of Chrysostom on this subject was introduced, and the popish disputant thought his armour perfect proof, and his victory absolutely certain and secure. It is needless to repeat the dialogue, as it contains nothing beyond what has already appeared. It may be remarked that the wearisome repetition of the same authorities and the same sophistries to ensnare the reformers, is a standing proof of the desperate condition to which, both intellectually and religiously, the cause of popery was even then reduced. What effect such arguments at that time might have had on minds prepared for them by superstitions discipline, we are unable to say: certain it is, however, that in the judgment of all candid readers in the present day they must appear altogether puerile and unworthy even of serious contempt.

Weston and Cole successively followed Harpsfield in attacking the persecuted but patient bishop--who might well have said to either of them what the author of "Sacred Classics," in more modern times, said to a pert and prating chaplain, who was examining him for ordination--"I have forgotten more learning than you ever possessed!" Passing over their ridiculous efforts, we come to that of Dr. Glin, who claims more serious notice from his having been an old friend of Dr. Ridley. The following intercourse took place between them.

Glin. I see that you evade all scriptures and fathers; I will go to work with you after another manner. Jesus Christ hath here his church known on earth, of which you were once a child, although now you speak contumeliously of the sacraments.

Rid. This is a grievous reproach, that you call me a shifter-away of the scripture, and of the doctors: as touching the sacraments, I never yet spake contumeliously of them. I grant that Christ hath here his church on earth: but that church did ever receive and acknowledge the eucharist to be a sacrament of the body of Christ, yet not the body of Christ really, but the body of Christ by grace.

Glin. Then I ask this question-Hath the catholic church ever, or at any time, been idolatrous?

Rid. The church is the pillar and stay of the truth, that never yet hath been idolatrous in respect of the whole: but peradventure in respect of some part thereof, which sometimes may be seduced by evil pastors, and through ignorance.

Glin. That church ever hath worshipped the flesh of Christ in the eucharist.

Rid. And I also worship Christ in the sacrament, but not because he is included in the sacrament; even as I worship Christ also in the scriptures, not because he is really included in them. Notwithstanding, I say, that the body of Christ is present in the sacrament; but yet sacramentally and spiritually, according to his grace, giving life; and in that respect really, that is, according to his benediction, giving life. Furthermore, I acknowledge, gladly, the true body of Christ to be in the Lord's supper, in such sort as the church of Christ doth acknowledge the same. But the true church of Christ doth acknowledge a presence of Christ's body in the Lord's supper to be communicated to the godly by grace, and spiritually, as I have often showed, and by a sacramental signification, but not by the corporeal presence of the body of his flesh.

Glin. Augustine against Faustus saith, "Some there were who thought us, instead of bread and of the cup, to worship Ceres and Bacchus." From this I gather, that there was an adoration of the sacrament among the fathers; and Erasmus, in an epistle to the brethren of Low Germany, saith, that the worshipping of the sacrament was before Augustine and Cyprian.

Rid. We handle the signs reverently: but we worship the sacrament as a sacrament, not as a thing signified by the sacrament.

Glin. What is the symbol or sacrament?

Rid. Bread.

Glin. Therefore we worship bread.

Rid. There is a deceit in the word adoramus. We worship the symbols when we reverently handle them. We worship Christ wheresoever we perceive his benefits: but we understand his benefit to be greatest in the sacrament.

Glin. Think you that Christ hath now his church?

Rid. I do so.

Glin. But all the church adoreth Christ verily and really in the sacrament. Rid. You know yourself that the eastern church would not acknowledge transubstantiation, as appeareth in the council of Florence.

Cole. That is false: for in the same they did acknowledge transubstantiation, although they would not intreat of the matter, for that they had not in their commission so to do.--It was not because they did not acknowledge the same, but because they had no commission so to do.

Curtop. Reverend sir, I will prove and declare, that the body of Christ is truly and really in the euchariest: and whereas the holy fathers, both of the west and east church, have written many things and no less manifest of the same matter, yet will I bring forth only Chrysostom. The place is this: "That which is in the cup, is the same that flowed from the side of Christ." But true and pure blood did flow from the side of Christ. Therefore, his true and pure blood is in the cup.

Watson. It is a thing commonly received of all, that the sacraments of the new law give grace to them that worthily receive.

Rid. True it is, that grace is given by the sacrament, but as by an instrument. The inward virtue and Christ give the grace through the sacrament.

Wat. What is a sacrament?

Rid. I remember there be many definitions of a sacrament in Augustine; but I will take that which seemeth most fit to this present purpose. A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace.--The society or conjunction with Christ through the Holy Ghost is grace; and by the sacrament we are made the members of the mystical body of Christ, for that by the sacrament the part of the body is grafted in the head.

Wat. But there is difference between the mystical body and natural body.

Rid. There is, I grant you, a difference; but the head of them both is one.

Wat. The eucharist is a sacrament of the New Testament: therefore it hath a promise of grace. But no promise of grace is made to bread and wine: therefore bread and wine are not the sacraments of the New Testament.

Rid. I grant that grace pertaineth to the eucharist, according to this saying: "The bread which we break, is it not the communication or partaking of the body of Christ?" And like as he that eateth, and he that drinketh, unworthily of the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord, eateth and drinketh his own damnation; even so he that eateth and drinketh worthily, eateth life and drinketh life. I grant also, that there is no promise made to bread and wine. But inasmuch as they are sanctified, and made the sacraments of the body and blood of the Lord, they have a promise of grace annexed unto them; namely, of spiritual partaking of the body of Christ to be communicated and given, not to the bread and wine, but to them who worthily receive the sacrament.

Wat. If the substance of bread and wine do remain, then the union betwixt Christ and us is promised to them that take bread and wine. But that union is not promised to bread and wine, but to the receivers of the flesh and blood. "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." Therefore the substance of bread and wine remaineth not.

Rid. The promise undoubtedly is made to the flesh and blood, but the same is to be received in the sacrament through faith. Every sacrament hath grace annexed unto it instrumentally. But there are divers understanding of this word "habet," "hath;" for the sacrament hath not grace included in it; but to those that receive it well, it is turned to grace. After that manner the water in baptism hath grace promised, and by that grace the Holy Spirit is given; not that grace is included in water, but that grace cometh by water.--There is no promise made to him that taketh common bread and common wine; but to him that receiveth the sanctified bread of the communion, there is a large promise of grace made: neither is the promise given to the symbols, but to the thing of the sacrament. But the thing of the sacrament is the flesh and blood.--This sacrament hath a promise of grace made to those that receive it worthily, because grace is given by it, as by an instrument; not that Christ hath transfused grace into the bread and wine.--There is no promise made to them that receive common bread, as it were; but to those that worthily receive the sanctified bread, there is a promise of grace made, as Origen doth testify.--The bread which we break, is it not a communication of the body of Christ? And we, being many, are one bread, one body of Christ.

Wat. What doth he mean by bread in that place?

Rid. The bread of the Lord's table, the communion of the body of Christ.

Wat. Hearken what Chrysostom saith on this place: "The bread which we break," etc. Wherefore did he not say participation? Because he would signify some greater matter, and that he would declare a great convenience and conjunction betwixt the same. For we do not communicate by participation only and receiving, but also by co-uniting, for likewise as that body is co-united to Christ, so also we, by the same bread, are conjoined and united to him. Rid. Let Chrysostom have his manner of speaking, and his sentence. If it be true, I reject it not. But let it not be prejudicial to me to name it true bread.

Wat. "All," saith Chrysostom, "which sit together at one board, do communicate together of one true body. What do I call," saith he, "this communicating? We are all the self-same body. What doth bread signify? The body of Christ. What are they that receive it? The body of Christ. For many are but one body." Chrysostom doth interpret this place against you. "All we be one bread, and one mystical body, which do participate together one bread of Christ."

Rid. All we are one mystical body, which do communicate of one Christ in bread, after the efficacy of regeneration. I speak of the bread of the Lord's table. It is one, the church being one, because one bread is set forth upon the table: and so of one bread altogether do participate, who communicate at the table of the Lord. All, I say, which at one table together have communicated in the mysteries might well so do. But the heavenly and celestial bread is likewise one, whereof the sacramental bread is a mystery; which being one, all we together do participate. I do distribute this word "all;" for all were wont together to communicate of the one bread divided into parts: all, I say, which were in one congregation, and which all did communicate together at one table.

Wat. What? Do you exclude then from the body of Christ all them which do not communicate, being present?

Fecknam. But Cyprian saith, "Bread which no multitude doth consume:" which cannot be understood but only of the body of Christ.

Rid. Also Cyprian in this place did speak of the true body of Christ, and not of material bread.

Feck. Nay, rather he did there speak of the sacrament in that tractation, "De Coena Domini," writing upon the supper of the Lord.

Rid. Truth it is, and I grant he entreateth there of the sacrament: but, also, he doth admix something therewithal of the spiritual manducation.

Smith. When the Lord saith, "This is my body," he useth no tropical speech: therefore you are deceived.

Rid. I deny your antecedent.

Smith. I bring here Augustine expounding these words, " 'Ferebatur in manibus suis--He was carried in his own hands.' How may this be understood to be done in man? For no man is carried in his own hands, but in the hands of other. How this may be understood of David after the letter, we do not find; of Christ we find it. For Christ was borne in his own hands, when he saith, 'This is my body,' for he carried that same body in his own hands." Augustine here did not see how this place, after the letter, could be understood of David; because no man can carry himself in his own hands: "Therefore," saith he, "this place is to be understood of Christ after the letter." For Christ carried himself in his own hands in his supper, when he gave the sacrament to his disciples, saying, "This is my body."

Rid. I deny your argument, and I explicate the same. Augustine could not find, after his own understanding, how this could be understood of David after the letter. Augustine goeth here from others in this exposition, but I go not from him. But let this exposition of Augustine be granted to you; although I know this place of Scripture be otherwise read of other men, after the verity of the Hebrew text, and it is also otherwise to be expounded. Yet to grant to you this exposition of Augustine, I say yet, notwithstanding, it maketh nothing against my assertion: for Christ did bear himself in his own hands, when he gave the sacrament of his body to be eaten by his disciples.--If Augustine could have found in all the Scripture that David had carried the sacrament of his body, then he would never have used that exposition of Christ. He verily did bear himself, but in a sacrament: and Augustine afterwards added quodam modo, that is, sacramentally.

Smith. You understand not what Augustine meant when he said "quodam modo;" for he meant that he did bear his very true body in that supper, not in figure and form of a body, but in form and figure of bread.

Then Dr. Tresham began to speak, moved (as it seemed to Ridley) with great zeal; desiring he might reduce him again to the mother church. He was unknown to Ridley, who thought him some good old man; but afterwards smelled a fox under a sheep's clothing.

Tresham. I bring a place here out of the council of Lateran, the which council, representing the universal church, wherein were congregated three hundred bishops and seventy metropolitans, besides a great multitude of others, decreed that bread and wine, by the power of God's word, was transubstantiated into the body and blood of the Lord. Therefore whosoever saith contrary, cannot be a child of the church, but a heretic.

Rid. Good sir, I have heard what you have cited out of the council of Lateran, and remember that there was a great multitude of bishops and metropolitans, as you said: but yet you have not numbered how many abbots, priors, and friars were in that council, who were to the number of eight hundred."

Another then came in, who Ridley knew not, and said, "The universal church, both of the Greeks and Latins, of the east and of the west, have agreed in the council of Florence uniformly in the doctrine of the sacrament, that there is the true and real body in the sacrament of the altar."

Rid. I deny the Greek and the east church to have agreed either in the council at Florence, or at any time else, with Romish church, in the doctrine of transubstantiation of bread into the body of Christ. For there was nothing in the council of Florence, wherein the Greeks would agree with the Romanists; albeit, hitherto I confess it was left free for every church to use, as they were wont, leavened or unleavened bread.

Here cried out Dr. Cole, and said, they agreed together concerning transubstantiation of bread into the body of Christ. Ridley meekly said that could not be.

Weston. I, with one argument, will throw down to the ground your opinion, out of Chrysostom; and I will teach, not only a figure and a sign or grace only, but the very same body, which was here conversant on the earth, to be in the eucharist. We worship the selfsame body in the eucharist which the wise men did worship in the manger. But that was his natural and real body, not spiritual: therefore the real body of Christ is in the eucharist. Again, the same Chrysostom saith, "We have not here the Lord in the manger, but on the altar. Here a woman holdeth him not in her hands, but a priest."

Rid. We worship the same Lord and Saviour of the world which the wise men worshipped in the manger; howbeit we do it in a mystery; and in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and that in spiritual liberty, as saith Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana: not in carnal servitude; that is, we do not worship servilely the signs for the things; for that should be, as he also saith, the part of a servile infirmity. But we behold with the eyes of faith him present after grace, and spiritually set upon the table; and we worship him which sitteth above and is worshipped of the angels. For Christ is always assistant to his mysteries, as Augustine also said. And the Divine Majesty, as saith Cyprian, doth never absent itself from the divine mysteries; but this assistance and presence of Christ, as in baptism it is wholly spiritual, and by grace, and not by any corporal substance of the flesh: even so it is here in the Lord's supper, being rightly and according to the word of God duly ministered.

Weston. That which the woman did hold in her womb, the same thing holdeth the priest.

Rid. I grant the priest holdeth the same thing, but after another manner. She did hold the natural body; the priest holdeth the mystery of the body. I say that Chrysostom meant it spiritually.

The prolocutor Weston, now dissolving the disputation, had these words: "Here you see the stubborn, the glorious, the crafty, the unconstant mind of this man. Here you see this day that the strength of the truth is without foil. Therefore I beseech you all most earnestly to blow the note, (and he began, and they followed,) 'Verity hath the victory!'" Disputation Had at Oxford the 18th Day of April, 1554, Between Master Hugh Latimer, and Master Smith and Others.

After these disputations of bishop Ridley ended, next was brought out master Hugh Latimer to dispute; which disputation began at eight of the clock in such form as before, and ended about eleven: but it was most in English, for Latimer alleged he was out of use with the Latin, and unfit for that place. There replied unto him master Smith of Oriel College; Dr. Cartwright, Harpsfield, and divers others had snatches at him, and gave him bitter taunts. He escaped not hissings and scornful laughings, no more than they that went before him. He was very faint, and desired that he might not long tarry; and he durst not drink for fear of vomiting. Latimer was not suffered to read what he had, as he said, painfully written; but it was exhibited up, and the prolocutor read part thereof, and so proceeded unto the disputation.

Weston. Men and brethren! we are come together this day, by the help of God, to vanquish the strength of the arguments, and dispersed opinions of adversaries, against the truth of the real presence of the Lord's body in the sacrament. And therefore, you father, if you have anything to answer, I do admonish you that you answer in short and few words.

Latimer. I pray you, good master prolocutor, do not exact that of me which is not in me. I have not these twenty years much used the Latin.

Weston. Take your ease, father.

Lat. I thank you, sir, I am well; let me here protest my faith, for I am not able to dispute; and afterwards do your pleasure with me. The conclusions whereunto I must answer are these:--

"The first is--That in the sacrament of the altar, by the virtue of God's word pronounced by the priest, there is really present the natural body of Christ, conceived by the virgin Mary, under the kinds of the appearance of bread and wine; in like manner his blood. The second is--That after consecration there remaineth no substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance, but the substance of God and man. The third is--That in the mass there is the lively sacrifice of the church, which is propitiable, as well for the sins of the quick, as of the dead.

"Concerning the first conclusion, I think it set forth with certain new-found terms that are obscure, and do not sound according to the speech of the scripture. But however I understand it, this I do answer plainly, though not without peril, that to the right celebration of the Lord's supper, there is no other presence of Christ required than a spiritual presence: and this presence is sufficient for a Christian, as a presence by which we abide in Christ, and Christ abideth in us, to the obtaining of eternal life, if we persevere. And this same presence may be called most fitly a real presence; that is, a presence not feigned, but a true and a faithful presence: which thing I here rehearse lest some sycophant or scorner should suppose me, with the Anabaptists, to make nothing of the sacrament but a naked and bare sign. As for that which is feigned of many, concerning their corporal presence, I for my part take it but for a papistical invention; therefore think it utterly to be rejected.

"Concerning the second conclusion, I dare be bold to say, that it hath no ground in God's word, but is a thing invented and found out by man, and therefore to be taken as false; and I had almost said, as the mother and nurse of the other errors. It were good for my lords and masters of the transubstantiation, to take heed lest they conspire with Nestorians, for I do not see how they can avoid it.

"The third conclusion, seemeth subtilly to sow sedition against the offering which Christ himself offered for us in his own proper person, according to those words of St. Paul, "That Christ his own self hath made purgation of our sins." And afterwards, "That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest concerning those things which are to be done with God, for the taking away of our sins." So that the expiation of our sins may be thought rather to depend on this, that Christ was an offering priest, than that he was offered, were it not that he was offered of himself; and therefore it is needless that he should be offered of any other. I will speak nothing of the wonderful presumption of man, to dare to attempt this thing without a manifest vocation, especially in that it tendeth to the overthrowing and making fruitless the cross of Christ; for truly it is no base or mean thing to offer Christ. And, therefore, well may a man say to my lords and masters, the offerers--"By what authority do ye this? and who gave you this authority? A man cannot take any thing, except it be given him from above; much less then ought any man presume to usurp any honour, before he be thereto called. Again, "If any man sin," saith St. John, "we have (not a master and offerer at home, which can sacrifice for us at mass) an advocate, Jesus Christ," which once offered himself long ago; of which offering the efficacy and effect is perdurable for ever, so that it is needless to have such offerers.

"What meaneth Paul when he saith--"They that serve at the altar, are partakers of the altar?" and--"So the Lord hath ordained, that they that preach the gospel, shall live of the gospel." Whereas he should have said, the Lord hath ordained, that they that sacrifice at mass, should live of their sacrificing, that there might be living assigned to our sacrificers now, as was before Christ's coming, to the Jewish priests. For now they have nothing to allege for their living, as they that be preachers have. So that it appeareth that the sacrificing priesthood is changed by God's ordinance into a preaching priesthood; and the sacrificing priesthood should cease utterly, saving inasmuch as all Christian men are sacrificing priests. The supper of the Lord was instituted to provoke us to thanksgiving, for the offering which the Lord himself did offer for us, rather than that our offerers should do there as they do. "Feed," saith Peter, "as much as ye may the flock of Christ;" but ye say, Nay, rather let us sacrifice as much as we may for the flock of Christ. If the matter be as men now make it, I can never wonder enough, that Peter would or could forget this office of sacrificing, which at this day is in such a price and estimation, that to feed is almost nothing with many. If ye cease from feeding the flock, how shall ye be taken? Truly catholic enough. But if you cease from sacrificing and massing, how will that be taken? At the least, I warrant ye shall be called heretics. And whence I pray you come these papistical judgments? Except, perchance, they think a man feedeth the flock in sacrificing for them: and then what needeth there any learned pastors? For no man is so foolish but soon he may learn to sacrifice and mass it.

"Thus I have taken the more pains to write, because I refused to dispute, in consideration of my debility thereunto: that all men may know I have so done not without great pains, having been allowed no man to help me. God is my witness that I would as fain obey my sovereign as any in this realm: but in these things I can never do it with an upright conscience. However, the Lord God be merciful unto us. Amen."

The prolocutor, on receiving this paper, addressed the venerable writer, artfully leading him by a train of familiar questions into an argument, the chief parts of which are as follow:

West. Then refuse you to dispute? Will you here then subscribe?

Lat. No, I pray be good to an old man. You may, if it please God, be once old as I am: you may come to this age, and to this debility.

West. You said on Saturday last that you could not find the mass, nor the marrow-bones thereof, in your book. What find you then there, in your book?

Lat. A communion; or two communions. I find no great diversity in them; they are one supper of the Lord. I like the last very well; but I do not well remember wherein they differ.

West. You call the sacrament the supper of the Lord; but you are deceived in that: for they had done the supper before, and therefore the scripture saith, "After they had supped." St. Paul findeth fault with the Corinthians, that some of them were drunk at this supper; and you know no man can be drunk at our communion.

Lat. The first was called Caena Judaica, "The Jewish Supper," when they eat the paschal lamb together; the other Caena Cominica, "The Lord's Supper."

Dr. Smith now interposed and said--"Because I perceive that this charge is laid upon my neck to dispute with you; to the end that the same may go forward after a right manner and order, I will propose three questions, so as they are put forth unto me. And first I ask this question of you, although the same indeed ought not to be called in question; but such is the condition of the church, that it is always vexed of the wicked. I ask, I say, whether Christ's body be really in the sacrament?"

To this Latimer replied--"I trust I have obtained of master prolocutor, that no man shall exact that thing of me which is not in me. And I am sorry that this worshipful audience should be deceived of their expectation for my sake. I have given up my mind in writing to master prolocutor."

Smith. Whatsoever ye have given up, shall be registered among the acts.

Lat. Disputation requireth a good memory; my memory is gone clean, and marvellously weakened, and never the better, I think, for the prison. I have long sought for the truth in this matter of the sacrament, and have not been of this mind more than seven years: and my lord of Canterbury's book hath especially confirmed my judgment herein. If I could remember all therein contained, I would not fear to answer any man in this matter.

In answer to a charge that he was once a Lutheran, he said boldly, "No, I was a papist: for I never could perceive how Luther could defend Luther's sayings or doings. If he were here, he would defend himself well enough. I told you before that I am not meet for disputations. I pray you read mine answer, wherein I have declared my faith."

Tresham. It is written, "Except ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye shall have no life in you." Which when the Capernaites and many of Christ's disciples heard, they said, "This is a hard saying," etc. Now that the truth may the better appear, here I ask of you, whether Christ, speaking these words, did mean of his flesh to be eaten with the mouth, or of the spiritual eating of the same?

Lat. Christ meant of the spiritual eating of his flesh, as Augustine saith.

Tresham. Of what flesh meant Christ? his true flesh, or no?

Lat. Of his true flesh, spiritually to be eaten by faith, and not corporally.

Tresham. Of what flesh mean the Capernaites?

Lat. Of his true flesh also; but to be taken with the mouth.

Tresham. They, as ye confess, did mean Christ's true flesh to be eaten with the mouth. And Christ also, as I shall prove, did speak of the receiving of his flesh with the mouth. Therefore they both did understand it of the eating of one thing, which is done by the mouth of the body.

Lat. I say, Christ understood it not of the bodily mouth, but of the mouth of the spirit, mind, and heart.

Tresham. I prove the contrary, that Christ understandeth it of the eating with the bodily mouth. For, whereas custom is a good interpreter of things, and whereas the acts put in practice by Christ do certainly declare those things which he first spake; Christ's deeds in his supper, where he gave his body to be taken with the mouth, together with the custom which hath been ever since that time of that eating which is done with the mouth, doth evidently intimate that Christ did understand his words here cited by me, out of John vi., of the eating with the mouth.

Lat. He gave not his body to be received with the mouth, but he gave the sacrament of his body to be received with the mouth; he gave the sacrament to the mouth, his body to the mind.

After further discussion with Tresham, Seton, Cartwright, and Smith, the prolocutor Weston attacked Latimer out of St. Augstine, saying:

"Augustine, in his Enchiridion, saith, 'We must not deny that the souls of the dead are relieved by the devotion of their friends which are living, when the sacrifice of the Mediator is offered for them.' Where he proveth the verity of Christ's body, and praying for the dead. And it is affirmed that the same Augustine said mass for his mother." To which the venerable man answered--"But that mass was not like yours, which thing doth manifestly appear in his writings, which are against it in every place. And Augustine is a reasonable man, who requireth to be believed no further than he bringeth scripture for his proof, and agreeth with God's word."

The prolocutor said, "Well, Mr. Latimer, this is our intent, to wish you well, and to exhort you to come to yourself, and remember that without Noah's Ark there is no health. What have they been that were the beginners of your doctrine? none but a few flying apostates, running out of Germany for fear of the fagot. What have they been which have set forth the same in this realm? a sort of light heads, which were never constant in any one thing, as it was to be seen in the turning of the table, when like a sort of apes, they could not tell which wy to turn their tails, looking one day west, and another day east; one that way, and another this way. They will be like, they say, to the apostles, they will have no churches! a hovel is good enough for them. They come to the communion with no reverence. They get them a tankard, and one saith I drink, and I am thankful; the more joy of thee, saith another. In them was it true that Hilary saith, 'We make every year and every month a faith.' A runagate Scot took away the adoration or worshipping of Christ in the sacrament, by whose procurement that heresy was put into the last communion-book; so prevailed that one man's authority at that time. You never agreed with the Zurichers, or with the Germans, or with the church, or with yourself. Your stubbornness cometh of a vain glory, which is to no purpose: for it will do you no good when a fagot is in your beard. And we see all, by your own confessions, how little cause ye have to be stubborn. The queen's grace is merciful, if ye will turn."

Latimer. You shall have no hope in me to turn. I pray for the queen daily, even from the bottom of my heart, that she may turn from this religion.

Weston. Here you all see the weakness of heresy against the truth: he denieth all truth, and all the old fathers.

The thus, good reader, thou hast the chief parts of this doctorly disputation showed forth unto thee, against these three worthy confessors and martyrs of the Lord, wherein thou mayest behold the disordered usage of the university-men, the unmannerly manner of the school, the rude tumult of the multitude, and the fierceness and interruption of the doctors. And what marvel, if the prolocutor, having the law in his own hand, to do what he listed, would say for himself, "Vicit veritas," although he said never a true word, nor made ever a true conclusion almost, in all that disputation.


On the following Friday, April 20th, the commissioners sat at St. Mary's church, as they had done on the Saturday before, when Dr. Weston in an imperious manner demanded of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, whether or not they would subscribe? He rudely told Cranmer that he had been overcome in the late disputation. The latter, in answer, charged him and his party with unfairness and blind partiality, urging that he had been overcome by noise only; and that he had no chance of success unless he had brawled as loud as they, and that four or five of them had frequently attacked him at once. Ridley and Latimer were asked what they would do? they replied that they would stand to what they had said: on which they were all called together, and sentence was read over them, that they were no members of the church: and therefore they, with their favourers and patrons, were condemned as heretics. And in reading of it--they were asked whether they would turn or not; but they bade them read on in the name of God, for they were not inclined to turn. So they were all three condemned.

To this sentence Cranmer first answered--"From this your judgment and sentence I appeal to the just judgment of God Almighty, trusting to be present with him in heaven, for whose presence in the altar I am thus condemned." Ridley followed the archbishop--"Although I be not of your company, yet doubt I not but my name is written in another place, whither this sentence will send us sooner than we should by the course of nature have gone." Latimer then said--"I thank God most heartily, that he hath prolonged my life to this end, that I may in this case glorify God by that kind of death."

On the ensuing Saturday the papists had a mass, with a general procession and great solemnity. Cranmer was caused to behold the procession out of the grating of the Bocardo prison; Ridley from the sheriff's house; and Latimer being brought to see it from the bailiff's house thought that he should have gone thence to burning, and spake to one Augustine, a peace-officer, to make a quick fire: but when he came to Carfox, the Oxford market-place, where four ways meet, he ran as fast as his aged bones would carry him, to one Spencer's shop, and would not look towards the vain procession. On the following Monday, Weston took his journey up to London, with the letters certificatory from the university to the queen, by whom Cranmer directed his letters supplicatory unto the council: which the prolocutor opened by the way, and seeing the contents, sent them back again, refusing to carry them. Ridley also hearing of the prolocutor's going to London, sent to him his letters, which he desired him to carry up to certain bishops in London.