The Text      

A Dialogue of Comfort against
Tribulation, made by an Hungarian
in Latin, and Translated out of Latin
into French, and out of French into


A Dialogue of Comfort against
Tribulation, made by an
Hungarian in Latin, and
translated out of Latin into
French, and out of French into
Who would have weened, oh! my good Uncle, before a few years passed,
that such as in this country would visit their friends lying in disease
and sickness, should come, as I do now, to seek and fetch comfort of them;
or, in giving comfort to them, use the way that I may well use to
you? For albeit that the priests and friars be wont to call upon
sick men to remember death; yet we worldly friends, for fear of
discomforting them, have ever had a guise in Hungary, to lift up
their hearts and put them in good hope of life. But now, my good Uncle,
the world is here waxen such, and so great perils appear here to fall
at hand that methinketh the greatest comfort that a man can have
is, when he may see that he shall soon be gone. And we that are
likely long to live here in wretchedness, have need of some comfortable
counsel against tribulation, to be given us by such as you be, good
Uncle, that have so long lived virtuously, and are so learned in the law
of God, as very few be better in this country here, and have had of
such things as we do now fear, good experience and assay in yourself;
as he that hath been taken prisoner in Turkey two times
in your days, and now likely to depart hence ere long. But that may

be your great comfort, good Uncle, since you depart to God; but us
here shall you leave of your kindred, a sort of very comfortless orphans,
to all whom your good help and comfort and counsel hath long been
a great stay; not as an uncle unto some, and to some as one farther
of kin, but as though unto us all you had been a natural father.
Mine own good Cousin, I cannot much say nay, but that there is
indeed, not here in Hungary only, but almost also in all places of
Christendom, a customable manner of unchristian comforting,
which albeit that in any sick man it doth more harm than good,
withdrawing him in time of sickness, with looking and longing for
life, from the meditation of death, judgment, heaven and hell, whereof he
should beset much part of his time, even all his whole life in his best
health; yet is that manner in my mind more than mad, where such
kind of comfort is used to a man of mine age. For, as we well wot, that
a young man may die soon; so we be very sure that an old man cannot
live long. And yet since there is, as Tully saith, no man for
all that so old, but that he hopeth yet that he may live one year
more, and of a frail folly delighteth to think thereon, and comfort
himself therewith; other men's words of like manner comfort, adding
more sticks to that fire, shall in a manner burn up quite the pleasant
moisture that most should refresh him; the wholesome dew (I mean) of
God's grace, by which he should wish with God's will to be hence,
and long to be with him in heaven. Now where you take my departing
from you so heavily, as of him of whom ye recognize of your goodness
to have had here before help and comfort; would God I had to you and
other more done half so much as myself reckoneth had been my
duty to do. But whensoever God take me hence, to reckon yourself
then comfortless, as though your chief comfort stood in me therein

make ye (methinketh) a reckoning very much like as though ye would
cast away a strong staff and lean upon a rotten reed. For God is,
and must be your comfort, and not I. And he is a sure comforter, that (as
he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants in case of comfortless
orphans, not even when he departeth from his disciples by
death; but both, as he promised, sent them a comforter, the Holy Spirit of
his Father and himself; and them also made sure, that to the world's
end he would ever dwell with them himself. And, therefore, if ye be part
of his flock, and believe his promise, how can ye be comfortless
in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them
their inseparable Father (if you put full trust and confidence in them)
be never one finger breadth of space, nor one minute of time from
Oh! my good Uncle, even these same self words, wherewith ye well
prove that because of God's own gracious presence we cannot be
left comfortless, make me now feel and perceive what a miss of much
comfort we shall have when ye be gone. For albeit, good Uncle, that
while ye do tell me this, I cannot but grant it for true; yet if I
now had not heard it of you, I had not remembered it, nor it had
not fallen in my mind. And over that, like as our tribulations shall
in weight and number increase, so shall we need, not only one such
good word or twain, but a great heap thereof, to stable and strengthen
the walls of our hearts against the great scourges of this tempestuous
Good Cousin, trust well in God, and he shall provide you teachers abroad
convenient in every time, or else shall himself sufficiently teach
you within.

Very well, good Uncle; but yet if we would leave the seeking of
outward learning, where we may have it, and look to be inwardly
taught only by God, then should we thereby tempt God, and displease
him. And since that I now see likelihood, that when ye be gone,
we shall be sore destitute of any such other like; therefore thinketh
me that God of duty bindeth me to sue to you now, good Uncle, in
this short time that we have you, that it may like you, against these
great storms of tribulation with which both I and all mine are sore
beaten already, and now, upon the coming of this cruel Turk, fear
to fall in far more; I may learn of you such plenty of good counsel
and comfort, that I may with the same laid up in remembrance,
govern and stay the ship of our kindred, and keep it afloat from
peril of spiritual drowning.
You be not ignorant, good Uncle, what heaps of heaviness hath of late
fallen among us already, with which some of our poor family be
fallen into such dumps, that scantily can any such comfort, as my
poor wit can give them, anything assuage their sorrow. And now
since these tidings have come hither so brim of the great Turk's
enterprise into these parts here, we can almost neither talk, nor
think of any other thing else, than of his might and our mischief;
there falleth so continually before the eyes of our heart a
fearful imagination of this terrible thing, his mighty strength and
power, his high malice and hatred, and his incomparable cruelty, with
robbing, spoiling, burning, and laying waste all the way that his
army cometh. Then killing or carrying away the people far hence
from home, and there sever the couples and kindred asunder, everyone
far from the other; some kept in thralldom, and some kept in
prison, and some for a triumph tormented and killed in his presence.
Then send his people hither and his false faith therewith, so that such
as here are and remain still shall either both lose all and be lost too,
or forced to forsake the faith of our Savior Christ, and fall to the

sect of Mahomet. And yet (which we more fear than all the
remnant) no small part of our own folk that dwell even here about
us are (as we fear) fallen to him, or already confederated with him;
which, if it so be, shall haply keep this quarter from the Turk's
incursion. But then shall they that turn to his law leave all their
neighbors nothing, but shall have our goods given them and
our bodies both; but if we turn as they do, and forsake our Savior
too; and then (for there is no born Turk so cruel to Christian
folk as is the false Christian that falleth from the faith) we shall stand
in peril if we persevere in the truth, to be more hardly handled
and die more cruel death by our own countrymen at home, than if
we were taken hence and carried into Turkey.
These fearful heaps of perils lie so heavy at our hearts, while
we wot not into which we shall fortune to fall, and therefore fear all
the worst, that (as our Savior prophesied of the people of Jerusalem)
many wish among us already before the peril come, that the
mountains would overwhelm them, or the valleys open and swallow them
up and cover them.
Therefore, good Uncle, against these horrible fears of these terrible
tribulations, of which some, ye wot well, our house already hath,
and the remnant stand in dread of, give us, while God lendeth you us,
such plenty of your comfortable counsel as I may write and keep
with us, to stay us when God shall call you hence.
Ah! my good Cousin, this is an heavy hearing, and likewise as we that
dwell here in this part fear that thing so sore now, which few years
past feared it not at all; so doubt I that ere it long be, they shall
fear it as much that think themselves now very sure, because they
dwell farther off. Greece feared not the Turk when that I was born, and
within a while after, all the whole empire was his. The great sultan
of Syria thought himself more than his match, and long since ye

were born, hath he that empire too. Then hath he taken Belgrade, the
fortress of this realm, and since hath he destroyed our noble young
goodly king. And now strive there twain for us: our Lord send
the grace that the third dog carry not away the bone from them
both! What should I speak of the noble strong city of the Rhodes, the
winning thereof he counted as a victory against the whole corps of
Christendom, since all Christendom was not able to defend that
strong town against him? Howbeit, if the princes of Christendom
everywhere about would, whereas need was, have set to their
hands in time, the Turk had never taken any one of all these
places. But partly dissensions fallen among ourselves, partly that
no man careth what harm other folk feel, but each part suffereth other
to shift for itself. The Turk is in few years wonderfully
increased, and Christendom on the other side very sore decayed: and
all this worketh our wickedness with which God is not content.
But now, whereas you desire of me some plenty of comfortable
things which ye may put in remembrance, and comfort therewith
your company; verily in the rehearsing and heaping of your
manifold fears, myself began to feel, that there should much need
against so many troubles many comfortable counsels. For surely,
Cousin, a little before your coming, as I devised with myself upon
the Turk's coming, it happened my mind to fall suddenly from that
into the devising upon my own departing: wherein, albeit that I
fully put my trust and hope to be a saved soul by the great mercy
of God, yet since there is here no man so sure that without revelation
may clean stand out of dread, I bethought me also upon the pains
of hell. And after, I bethought me then upon the Turk again. And
first methought his terror nothing, when I compared it with
the joyful hope of heaven. Then compared I it on the other side with
the fearful dread of hell. And therein casting in my mind those terrible

devilish tormentors, with the deep consideration of that
furious endless fire; methought, that if the Turk with his whole
host, and all his trumpets and timbrels too, were to kill me
in my bed come to my chamber door, in respect of the other
reckoning I regard him not a rush.
And yet when I now heard your lamentable words, laying forth as
it were present before my face the heap of heavy sorrowful tribulation,
that beside those that are already fallen, are in short space like
to follow, I waxed therewith myself suddenly somewhat a-flight. And
therefore I well allow your request in this behalf that would have
store of comfort beforehand ready by you to resort to, and to lay up in
your heart as a treacle against the poison of all desperate dread that
might rise of occasion of sore tribulation. And herein shall I be
glad, as my poor wit will serve me, to call to mind with you such
things, as I before have read, heard, or thought upon, that may
conveniently serve us to this purpose.
The First Chapter
That the comforts devised by the old
paynim philosophers were insufficient,
and the cause wherefore.
First shall ye, good Cousin, understand this, that the natural wise
men of this world, the old moral philosophers, labored much in this
matter, and many natural reasons have they written, whereby they might
encourage men to set little by such goods, or such hurt either, the
going and coming whereof are the matter and cause of tribulation: as

are the goods of fortune, riches, favor, and friends, fame, worldly
worship, and such other things; or of the body, as beauty, strength,
agility, quickness, and health. These things (ye wot well) coming to us,
are matter of worldly wealth; and taken from us by fortune, or by
force, or by fear of the losing, be matter of adversity and tribulation.
For tribulation seemeth generally to signify nothing else but some
kind of grief, either pain of the body or heaviness of the mind.
Now the body not to feel that it feeleth, all the wit in the world
cannot bring about. But that the mind should not be grieved, neither
with the pain that the body feeleth nor with occasions of
heaviness offered and given unto the soul itself, this thing labored the
philosophers very much about, and many goodly sayings have they
toward the strength and comfort against tribulation, exciting men to
the full contempt of all worldly loss, and despising of sickness, and
all bodily grief, painful death and all. Howbeit in very deed, for
anything that ever I read in them, I never could yet find that ever
those natural reasons were able to give sufficient comfort of themselves.
For they never stretch so far, but that they leave untouched, for
lack of necessary knowledge, that special point which is not only the
chief comfort of all, but, without which also, all other comforts are
nothing: that is, to wit, the referring the final end of their comfort
unto God, and to repute and take for the special cause of comfort, that
by the patient sufferance of their tribulation they shall attain his
favor, and for their pain receive reward at his hand in heaven. And
for lack of knowledge of this end, they did (as they needs must) leave
untouched also the very special means, without which we can never
attain to this comfort; that is, to wit, the gracious help and aid of God
to move, stir, and guide us forward, in the referring all our ghostly
comfort, yea, and our worldly comfort too, all unto that heavenly end.
And therefore, as I say, for lack of these things, all their comfortable
counsels are very far insufficient. Howbeit, though they

be far unable to cure our disease of themselves, and therefore are not
sufficient to be taken for our physicians, some good drugs have
they yet in their shops, for which they may be suffered to dwell among
our apothecaries, if their medicines be not made of their own brains,
but after the bills made by the great physician God, prescribing
the medicines himself, and correcting the faults of their erroneous
receipts. For without this way taken with them, they shall not fail
to do, as many bold blind apothecaries do, which either for lucre, or of
a foolish pride, give sick folk medicines of their own devising, and
therewith kill up in corners many such simple folk, as they find
so foolish to put their lives in such lewd and unlearned blind bayards'
We shall, therefore, neither fully receive these philosophers reasons in
this matter, nor yet utterly refuse them; but using them in such
order as shall beseem them, the principal and the effectual medicines
against these diseases of tribulation shall we fetch from that high,
great and excellent physician, without whom we could never be healed
of our very deadly disease of damnation. For our necessity
wherein, the Spirit of God spiritually speaketh of himself to us, and
biddeth us of all our health give him the honor; and therein thus
saith unto us, "Honora medicum; propter necessitatem enim ordinavit eum
Altissimus" (Honor thou the physician, for him hath the high God
ordained for thy necessity).
Therefore, let us require the high physician, our blessed Savior
Christ, whose holy manhood God ordained for our necessity, to cure our
deadly wounds with the medicine made of the most wholesome blood
of his own blessed body: that likewise as he cured by that incomparable
medicine our mortal malady, it may like him to send us and
put in our minds such medicines at this time, as against the sickness
of sorrows and tribulations may so comfort and strengthen us in his grace,

as our deadly enemy the devil may never have the power by his
poisoned dart of murmur, grudge, and impatience, to turn our short
sickness of worldly tribulation into the endless everlasting death of
infernal damnation.
The Second Chapter
That for a foundation men must needs
begin with faith.
Since all our principal comfort must come of God, we must first
presuppose in him to whom we shall with any ghostly counsel
give any effectual comfort, one ground to begin withal, whereupon
all that we shall build must be supported and stand: that is,
to wit, the ground and foundation of faith, without which had
ready before, all the spiritual comfort that any man may speak
of can never avail a fly. For likewise as it were utterly vain to
lay natural reasons of comfort to him that hath no wit, so were it
undoubtedly frustrate to lay spiritual causes of comfort to him
that hath no faith. For except a man first believe that holy scripture
is the word of God, and that the word of God is true, how
can a man take any comfort of that that the scriptures telleth him
therein? Needs must the man take little fruit of the scripture, if he
either believe not that it were the word of God, or else ween that,
though it were, it might yet be for all that untrue. This faith, as it is
more faint, or more strong, so shall the comfortable words of holy
scripture stand the man in more stead, or less. This virtue of faith
can neither any man give himself, nor yet any one man another:
but though men may with preaching be ministers unto God
therein, and the man with his own free will obeying freely the inward
inspiration of God be a weak worker with Almighty God therein;
yet is the faith indeed the gracious gift of God himself. For, as Saint
James saith, "Omne datum optimum, et omne donum perfectum desursum
est, descendens a patre luminum" (Every good gift and every perfect gift is
given from above, descending from the Father of lights). Therefore,

feeling our faith by many tokens very faint, let us pray to him
that giveth it, that it may please him to help and increase it. And
let us first say with him in the Gospel, "Credo Domine, adjuva incredulitatem
meam" (I believe, good Lord, but help thou the lack of my
belief). And after, let us pray with the apostles, "Domine, adauge nobis
fidem" (Lord, increase our faith). And, finally, let us consider by
Christ's saying unto them, that if we would not suffer the strength
and fervor of our faith to wax lukewarm, or rather key-cold,
and in manner lose his vigor by scattering our minds abroad about
so many trifling things, that of the matters of our faith we very
seldom think, but that we would withdraw our thought from the
respect and regard of all worldly fantasies, and so gather our faith
together into a little narrow room. And like the little grain of
a mustard seed, which is of nature hot, set it in the garden of our
soul, all weeds pulled out for the better feeding of our faith; then shall
it grow, and so spread up in height, that the birds, that is, to
wit, the holy angels of heaven, shall breed in our soul and bring
forth virtues in the branches of our faith. And then with the faithful
trust, that through the true belief of God's word we shall put
in his promise, we shall be well able to command a great mountain
of tribulation to void from the place where it stood in our heart;
whereas, with a very feeble faith and a faint, we shall be scant able
to remove a little hillock. And, therefore, as for the first conclusion,
as we must of necessity before any spiritual comfort presuppose the
foundation of faith; so since no man can give us faith, but only God,
let us never cease to call upon God therefore.
Forsooth, my good Uncle, methinketh that this foundation of faith,
which (as you say) must be laid first, is so necessarily requisite, that
without it all spiritual comfort were utterly given in vain. And,
therefore now shall we pray God for a full and a fast faith. And I pray

you, good Uncle, proceed you farther in the process of your matter
of spiritual comfort against tribulation.
That shall I, Cousin, with good will.
The first comfort in tribulation may a
man take in this, when he feeleth in himself
a desire and longing to be comforted by God.
The Third Chapter
I will in my poor mind assign for the first comfort the desire and
longing to be by God comforted. And not without some reason call I
this the first cause of comfort. For like as the cure of that person
is in a manner desperate, that hath no will to be cured; so
is the discomfort of that person desperate, that desireth not his own
And here shall I note you two kinds of folk that are in tribulation
and heaviness. One sort, that will seek for no comfort; another sort, that
will. And yet of those that will not are there also two sorts. For first,
one sort there are that are so drowned in sorrow, that they fall into
a careless deadly dullness, regarding nothing, thinking almost on
nothing, no more than if they lay in a lethargy, with which it may
so fall that wit and remembrance will wear away, and fall even fair
from them. And this comfortless kind of heaviness in tribulation is
the highest kind of the deadly sin of sloth. Another sort are
there that will seek for no comfort, nor yet none receive, but are
in their tribulation (be it loss or sickness) so testy, so fumish, and so
far out of all patience, that it booteth no man to speak to them:
and these are in a manner with impatience so furious as though they

were in half a frenzy, and may, with a custom of such fashioned
behavior, fall in thereto full and whole. And this kind of heaviness in
tribulation is even a mischievous high branch of the mortal sin
of ire. And then is there, as I told you, another kind of folk
which fain would be comforted. And yet are they of two sorts too. One
sort are those that in their sorrow seek for worldly comfort; and
of them shall we now speak the less, for the divers occasions that
we shall after have to touch them in more places than one. But this
will I here say, that I learned of Saint Bernard; he that in tribulation
turneth himself unto worldly vanities, to get help and comfort by
them, fareth like a man that in peril of drowning catcheth whatsoever
cometh next to hand, and that holdeth he fast, be it never so
simple a stick; but then that helpeth him not, for that stick he
draweth down under the water with him, and there lie they drowned
So surely if we custom ourselves to put our trust of comfort in
the delight of these peevish worldly things, God shall for that foul
fault suffer our tribulation to grow so great, that all the pleasure
of this world shall never bear us up, but all our peevish pleasure
shall in the depth of tribulation drown with us.
The other sort is, I say, of those that long and desire to be comforted
of God. And, as I told you before, they have an undoubted great
cause of comfort, even in that point alone, that they consider themselves
to desire and long to be of Almighty God comforted.
This mind of theirs may well be cause of great comfort unto them
for two great considerations. The one is, that they see themselves seek
for their comfort where they cannot fail to find it. For God both
can give them comfort, and will. He can, for he is almighty he will,
for he is all good, and hath promised himself, "Petite, et accipietis" (Ask,
and you shall have). He that hath faith (as he must needs have

that shall take comfort) cannot doubt, but that God will surely keep this
promise. And therefore hath he a great cause to be of good comfort,
as I say, in that he considereth, that he longeth to be comforted by
him, which his faith maketh him sure will not fail to comfort
But here consider this, that I speak here of him that in tribulation
longeth to be comforted by God; and that is he that referreth the
manner of his comforting to God, holding himself content, whether
it be by taking away or diminishment of the tribulation itself, or
by the giving him patience and spiritual consolation therein. For
him that only longeth to have God take his trouble from him, we
cannot so well warrant that mind for a cause of so great comfort. For
both may he desire that, that never mindeth to be the better;
and may miss also the effect of his desire, because his request
is haply not good for himself. And of this kind of longing and
requiring we shall have occasion farther to speak hereafter. But he
that referring the manner of his comfort unto God desireth of God to
be comforted, asketh a thing so lawful and so pleasant unto God, that
he cannot fail to speed: and therefore hath he (as I say) great cause
to take comfort in the very desire itself. Another cause hath he
to take of that desire a very great occasion of comfort. For since his
desire is good, and declareth unto himself that he hath in God a good
faith, it is a good token unto him that he is not an abject cast out
of God's gracious favor, while he perceiveth that God hath put such
a virtuous well ordered appetite in his mind. For as every evil mind
cometh of the world, and ourselves, and the devil; so is every such good
mind either immediately, or by the means of our good angel, or other
gracious occasion inspired into man's heart by the goodness of God
himself. And what a comfort then may this be unto us when we
by that desire perceive a sure undoubted token, that toward
our final salvation our Savior is himself so graciously busy about

That tribulation is a means to draw man
to that good mind, to desire and long
for the comfort of God.
The Fourth Chapter
Forsooth, good Uncle, this good mind of longing for God's comfort
is a good cause of great comfort indeed: our Lord in tribulation
send it us! But by this I see well, that woe may they be which in
tribulation lack that mind, and that desire not to be comforted by
God, but are either of sloth or impatience discomfortless, or of
folly seek for their chief ease and comfort anywhere else.
That is, good Cousin, very true, as long as they stand in that state.
But then must ye consider that tribulation is yet a means to drive
him from that state. And that is one of the causes for which
God sendeth it unto man. For albeit that pain was ordained of God
for the punishment of sin (for which they that can never now but
sin, can never be but ever punished in hell), yet in this world, in
which his high mercy giveth men space to be better, the punishment
by tribulation that he sendeth, serveth ordinarily for a means
of amendment.
Saint Paul was himself sore against Christ, till Christ gave him
a great fall and threw him to the ground, and struck him stark blind:
and with that tribulation he turned to him at the first word, and
God was his physician, and healed him soon after both in body and
soul by his minister Ananias, and made him his blessed apostle.
Some are in the beginning of tribulation very stubborn and stiff
against God, and yet at length tribulation bringeth them home. The
proud king Pharaoh did abide and endure two or three of the first plagues,

and would not once stoop at them. But then God laid on a sorer lash that
made him cry to him for help, and then sent he for Moses
and Aaron, and confessed himself a sinner, and God for good
and righteous, and prayed them to pray for him, and to withdraw that
plague, and he would let them go. But when his tribulation was
withdrawn, then was he naught again. So was his tribulation occasion
of his profit, and his help again cause of his harm. For his
tribulation made him call to God, and his help made hard his heart
Many a man that in an easy tribulation falleth to seek his ease in
the pastime of worldly fantasies, findeth in a greater pain all these
comforts so feeble, that he is fain to fall to the seeking of God's
help. And therefore is, I say, the very tribulation itself many
times a means to bring the man to the taking of the fore-remembered
comfort therein: that is, to wit, to the desire of comfort given by God,
which desire of God's comfort is, as I have proved you, great cause
of comfort itself.
The special means to get this first comfort
in tribulation.
The Fifth Chapter
Howbeit, though the tribulation itself be a means oftentimes to
get man this first comfort in it, yet itself sometimes alone bringeth
not a man to it. And therefore since without this comfort first had, there
can in tribulation none other good comfort come forth we must
labor the means that this first comfort may come. And thereunto seemeth
me, that if the man of sloth, or impatience, or hope of worldly
comfort, have no mind to desire and seek for comfort of God; those
that are his friends that come to visit and comfort him must before
all things put that point in his mind, and not spend the time (as they
commonly do) in trifling and turning him to the fantasies of the world.

They must also move him to pray God put this desire in his mind,
which when he getteth once he then hath the first comfort, and without
doubt (if it be well considered), a comfort marvelous great. His friends
also, that thus counsel him, must unto the attaining thereof help
to pray for him themselves, and cause him to desire good folk to help
him to pray therefor. And then, if these ways be taken for the
getting, I nothing doubt but the goodness of God shall give it.
It sufficeth not that a man have a desire
to be comforted by God only by the
taking away of the tribulation.
The Sixth Chapter
Verily methinketh, good Uncle that this counsel is very good.
For except the person have first a desire to be comforted by God, else
can I not see what can avail to give him any further counsel of
any spiritual comfort. Howbeit, what if the man have this desire
of God's comfort, that is to wit, that it may please God to comfort
him in his tribulation by taking that tribulation from him; is not
this a good desire of God's comfort, and a desire sufficient for him that
is in tribulation?
No, Cousin, that is it not. I touched before a word of this point, and
passed it over, because I thought it would fall in our way again,
and so wot I well it will oftener than once. And now am I glad that
ye move it me here yourself.
A man may many times well and without sin desire of God the
tribulation to be taken from him; but neither may we desire that
in every case, nor yet very well in no case (except very few),
but under a certain condition, either expressed or implied. For tribulations
are (ye wot well) of many sundry kinds: some by loss

of goods or possessions; and some by the sickness of ourselves, and some
by the loss of friends, or by some other pain put unto our bodies;
some by the dread of losing those things that we fain would
save, under which fear fall all the same things that we have spoken
before. For we may fear loss of goods or possessions, or the loss
of our friends, their grief and trouble, or our own; by sickness,
imprisonment, or other bodily pain we may be troubled with the
dread of death, and many a good man is troubled most of all with the
fear of that thing, which he that most need hath fearest least of all,
that is to wit, the fear of losing through deadly sin the life of his
silly soul. And this last kind of tribulation, is the sorest tribulation
of all, though we touch here and there some pieces thereof before,
yet the chief part and the principal point will I reserve, to treat apart
effectually that matter in the last end.
But now, as I said, where the kinds of tribulation are so divers,
some of these tribulations a man may pray God to take from him,
and take some comfort in the trust that God will so do. And therefore
against hunger, sickness, and bodily hurt, and against the loss of either
body or soul, men may lawfully many times pray to the goodness
of God, either for themselves or their friend. And toward this
purpose are expressly prayed many devout orisons in the common service
of our Mother Holy Church. And toward our help in some of
these things serve some of the petitions in the Pater Noster, wherein
we pray for our daily food, and to be preserved from the fall in temptation,
and to be delivered from evil.
But yet may we not always pray for the taking away from us of every
kind of temptation. For if a man should in every sickness pray for his
health again, when should he show himself content to die and to depart
unto God? And that mind must a man have, ye wot well, or else it
will not be well.
One tribulation is it to good men, to feel in themselves the

conflict of the flesh against the soul, the rebellion of sensuality
against the rule and governance of reason, the relics that
remain in mankind of old original sin, of which Saint Paul
so sore complaineth in his Epistle to the Romans. And yet may we
not pray, while we stand in this life, to have this kind of tribulation
utterly taken from us. For it is left us by God's ordinance to
strive against it, and fight withal, and by reason and grace to master it,
and use it for the matter of our merit.
For the salvation of our soul may we boldly pray; for grace may
we boldly pray; for faith, for hope, and for charity, and for every such
virtue as shall serve us to heavenward. But as for all other things
before remembered, in which is conceived the matter of every kind of
tribulation, we may never well make prayer so precisely but that we
must express or imply a condition therein; that is to wit, that if
God see the contrary better for us, we refer it whole to his will, and instead
of our grief taking away, pray that God of his goodness may send
us either spiritual comfort to take it gladly, or strength at the least
way to bear it patiently. For if we determine with ourselves that
we will take no comfort in nothing, but in the taking of our tribulation
from us; then either prescribe we to God, that we will
he shall no better turn do us, though he would, than we will ourselves
appoint him; or else do we declare that what thing is best for us, ourselves
can better tell than he.
And therefore, I say, let us in tribulation desire this help and comfort,
and let us remit the manner of that comfort unto his own high pleasure;
which, when we do, let us nothing doubt, but that like as his high
wisdom better seeth what is best for us than we can see ourselves,
so shall his sovereign goodness give us the thing that shall indeed
be best. For else if we will presume to stand unto our own choice,
except it so be that God offer us the choice himself (as he did to
David in the choice of his own punishment, after his high pride

conceived in the numbering of his people), we may foolishly choose the
worse; and by the prescribing unto God ourselves so precisely what
we will that he shall do for us (except that of his gracious favor he
reject our folly), he shall for indignation grant us our own request,
and after shall we well find that it shall turn us to harm. How
many men attain health of body, that were better for their souls'
health their bodies were sick still!
How many get out of prison, that hap on such harm abroad
as the prison should have kept them from! How many have there
been loath to lose their worldly goods, have in keeping of them soon
after lost their life! So blind is our mortality, and so unaware what will
fall, so unsure also what manner mind we will have tomorrow,
that God could not lightly do man a more vengeance than in this
world to grant him his own foolish wishes.
What wit have we (poor fools) to wit what will serve us when the
blessed Apostle himself in his sore tribulation, praying thrice unto
God to take it away from him, was answered again by God in a
manner that he was but a fool in asking that request, but that the
help of God's grace in that tribulation to strengthen him was far
better for him than to take the tribulation from him? And therefore,
by experience perceiving well the truth of that lesson, he giveth
us good warning not to be bold of our own minds when we
require aught of God, nor to be precise in our askings, but refer the
choice to God at his own pleasure. For his own Holy Spirit so
sore desireth our weal, that as man might say he groaneth for us
in such wise as no tongue can tell. "Nos autem," saith Saint Paul "quid
oremus ut oportet nescimus, sed ipse spiritus postulat pro nobis gemitibus
inenarrabilibus" (What may we pray that were behovable for us; cannot
ourselves tell: but the Spirit himself desireth for us with unspeakable
And therefore, I say, for conclusion of this point, let us never ask of

God precisely our own ease by delivery from our tribulation, but pray
for his aid and comfort by which ways himself shall best like;
and then may we take comfort, even of our such request. For both
are we sure that this mind cometh of God, and also be we very sure
that as he beginneth to work with us, so (but if ourselves flit from
him) he will not fail to tarry with us; and then, he dwelling with
us, what trouble can do us harm? "Si deus nobiscum quis contra nos?"
"If God be with us," saith Saint Paul, "who can stand against us?"
A great comfort it may be in tribulation,
that every tribulation is, if we ourselves,
a thing either medicinable, or
else more than medicinable.
The Seventh Chapter
You have, good Uncle, well opened and declared the question that
I demanded you, that is to wit, what manner comfort a man might
pray for in tribulation. And now proceed forth, good Uncle, and show
us yet farther some other spiritual comfort in tribulation.
This may be, thinketh me, good Cousin, great comfort in tribulation,
that every tribulation which any time falleth unto us is either
sent to be medicinable, if men will so take it; or may become
medicinable, if men will make of it; or is better than medicinable,
but if we will forsake it.
Surely, this is very comfortable, if we may well perceive it.

These three things that I tell you, we shall consider thus. Every
tribulation that we fall in, cometh either by our own known deserving
deed bringing us thereunto, as the sickness that followeth
our intemperate surfeit, or the imprisonment or other punishment put
upon a man for his heinous crime; or else is it sent us by God without
any certain deserving cause open and known unto ourselves, either
for punishment of some sins past (we certainly know not for which),
or for preserving us from some sins, in which we were else like to
fall, or, finally, for no respect of the man's sin at all, but for the profit
of his patience and increase of his merit. In all the former causes,
tribulation is (if we will) medicinable: in this latter case of all, it
is yet better than medicinable.
The declaration larger concerning them
that fall in tribulation by their own well
known fault, and that yet such tribulation
is medicinable.
The Eighth Chapter
This seemeth me very good, good Uncle, saving that it seemeth somewhat
brief and short, and thereby methinketh somewhat obscure and
We shall therefore, to give it light withal, touch every member
somewhat more at large.
One member is, ye wot well, of them that fall in tribulation
through their own certain well deserving deed open and

known unto themselves, as where we fall in a sickness following upon
our own gluttonous feasting, or a man that is punished for his own
open fault.
These tribulations, lo, and such other like, albeit that they may seem
discomfortable, in that a man may be sorry to think himself the
cause of his own harm; yet hath he good cause of comfort in them,
if he consider that he may make them medicinable for himself,
if he himself will.
For whereas there was due to that sin (except it were purged
here) a far greater punishment after this world in another place;
this worldly tribulation of pain and punishment, by God's good provision
for him put upon him here in this world before, shall
by the means of Christ's Passion (if the man will in true faith and
good hope, by meek and patient sufferance of his tribulation, so make
it), serve him for a sure medicine, to cure him and clearly discharge him
of all his sickness and disease of those pains, that else he should suffer
after. For such is the great goodness of Almighty God, that
he punisheth not one thing twice. And albeit so, that this punishment
is put unto the man, not of his own election and free choice, but
so by force as he would fain avoid it, and falleth in it against his
will, and therefore seemeth worthy no thanks; yet so far passeth the great
goodness of God the poor imperfect goodness of man that though men
make their reckoning one here with another such, God yet of his
bounty in man's account toward him alloweth it far otherwise.
For though that a man fall in his pain by his own fault, and also
first against his will, yet as soon as he confesseth his fault, and
applieth his will to be content to suffer that pain and punishment
for the same, and waxeth sorry, not for that only that he shall
sustain such punishment, but for that also that he hath offended
God and thereby deserved much more: our Lord from that time
counteth it not for pain taken against his will, but it shall be a marvelous
good medicine and work (as a willingly taken pain)
the purgation and cleansing of his soul, with gracious remission of

his sin, and of the far greater pain that else had been prepared
therefor peradventure forever in hell.
For many there are undoubtedly, that would else drive forth and die
in their deadly sin, which yet in such tribulation, feeling their own
frailty so effectually, and the false flattering world failing them
so fully, turn goodly to God and call for mercy, and by grace make
virtue of necessity, and make a medicine of their malady, taking their
trouble meekly, and make a right godly end.
Consider well the story of Achan, that committed sacrilege at the
great city of Jericho, whereupon God took a great vengeance upon
the children of Israel, and after told them the cause, and bade them go
seek the fault and try it out by lots; when the lot fell upon the
very man that did it, being tried by the falling first upon his tribe,
and then upon his family, and then upon his house, and finally upon
his person, he might well see that he was deprehended and taken
against his will. But yet, at the good exhortation of Joshua, saying unto
him, "Fili mi, da gloriam Deo Israell, et confitere, ac indica mihi quid feceris,
et ne abscondas" (Mine own son, give glory to the God of Israel, and
confess, and show me what thou hast done and hide it not); he confessed
humbly the theft and meekly took his death therefor, and had, I doubt
not, both strength and comfort in his pain, and died a very good
man: which, if he had never come in tribulation, had been
in peril never haply to have had just remorse thereof in all his
whole life, but might have died wretchedly, and gone to the devil
eternally. And thus made this thief a good medicine of his well-deserved
pain and tribulation. Consider the well-converted thief that hung
on Christ's right hand. Did not he (by his meek sufferance and humble
knowledge of his fault, asking forgiveness of God, and yet content to suffer
for his sin) make of his just punishment and well-deserved tribulation
a very good special medicine to cure him of all the pain in
the other world, and win him eternal salvation? And thus,
I say, that this kind of tribulation, though it seem the most base and

the least comfortable, is yet (if the man will so make it) a very marvelous
wholesome medicine; and may therefore be to the man that will so
consider it, a great cause of comfort and spiritual consolation.
The second point, that is to wit, that
tribulation that is sent us by God, without
any open certain deserving cause known unto
ourselves. And that this kind of tribulation
is medicinable, if men will so take it, and
therefore great occasion of comfort.
The Ninth Chapter
Verily, mine Uncle, this first kind of tribulation have you to my
mind opened sufficiently, and therefore I pray you resort now to the
The second kind was, ye wot well, of such tribulation as is so sent
us by God, that we know no certain cause deserving that present
trouble, as we certainly know that upon such a surfeit we fell in such
a sickness; or as the thief knoweth that for such a certain theft he
is fallen into such a certain punishment.
But yet since we seldom lack faults against God, worthy and well
deserving great punishment: indeed we may well think, and wisdom
is so to do, that with sin we have deserved it, and that God
for some sin sendeth it, though we certainly know not ourselves for
which. And, therefore, as yet thus far forth is this kind of tribulation
somewhat in effect in comfort to be taken like unto the other: for this,
as ye see, if we will thus take it well, reckoning it to be sent for our
sin, and suffering it patiently therefore, is medicinable against the

pain in the other world to come for our sins in this world past,
which is, as I showed you, a cause of right great comfort.
But yet may then this kind of tribulation be to some men of more
sober living, and thereby of the more clear conscience, somewhat a
little more comfortable. For though they may none otherwise reckon
themselves than sinners (for as Saint Paul saith, "Nullius mihi
conscius sum, sed non in hoc justificatus sum" -- My conscience grudgeth me
not of anything, but yet am I not thereby justified; and Saint John
saith, "Si dixerimus, quia peccatum non habemus, ipsi nos seducimus et
veritas in nobis non est" -- If we say that we have no sin in us, we
beguile ourselves, and truth is there not in us), yet forasmuch as
the cause is to them not so certain, as it is to the other fore-remembered
in the first kind, and that it is also certain, that God sometimes
sendeth tribulation for keeping and preserving a man from such sin as
he should else fall in, and sometimes also for exercise of their patience
and increase of merit, great cause of increase in comfort have these
folk of the clearer conscience in the fervor of their tribulation, in
that they may take the comfort of a double medicine, and of a thing
also that is of the kind which we shall finally speak of that I call
better than medicinable. But as I have before spoken of this kind of
tribulation, how it is medicinable in that it cureth the sin past,
and purchaseth remission of the pain due therefor; so let us somewhat
consider, how this tribulation sent us by God is medicinable, in
that it preserve us from the sin into which we were else like to
If that thing be a good medicine that restoreth us our health when
we lose it; a good medicine must this needs be that preserveth our
health while we have it, and suffereth us not to fall into the painful
sickness that must after drive us to a painful plaster.
Now seeth God sometime that worldly wealth is with one (that is
yet good) coming upon him so fast, that foreseeing how much weight

of worldly wealth the man may bear, and how much will overcharge
him, and enhance his heart up so high that grace should fall from him
low; God of his goodness, I say, preventeth his fall, and sendeth him
tribulation betimes while he is yet good, to gar him to ken his
Maker, and by less liking the false flattering world, set a cross upon
the ship of his heart, and bear a low sail thereon, that the boisterous
blast of pride blow him not under the water.
Some young lovely lady, lo, that is yet good enough, God seeth a storm
coming toward her, that would (if her health and her fat feeding should
a little longer last) strike her into some lecherous love, and, instead
of her old acquainted knight, lay her abed with a new acquainted
knave. But God loving her more tenderly than to suffer her fall
into such shameful beastly sin, sendeth her in season a goodly
fair fervent fever, that maketh her bones to rattle, and wasteth away
her wanton flesh, and beautifieth her fair fell with the color of the
kite's claw, and maketh her look so lovely, that her lover would have
little lust to look upon her, and make her also so lusty, that if her
lover lay in her lap, she should so sore long to break unto him the
very bottom of her stomach, that she should not be able to refrain it
from him, but suddenly lay it all in his neck.
Did not (as I before showed you) the blessed Apostle himself
confess, that the high revelation that God had given him, might
have enhanced him into such high pride that he might have caught
a foul fall, had not the provident goodness of God provided for his
remedy? And what was his remedy, but a painful tribulation,
so sore that he was fain to call thrice to God to take the tribulation
from him. And yet would God not grant his request, but let him
lie so long therein, till himself, that saw more in Saint Paul
than Saint Paul saw in himself, wist well the time was come
in which he might well without his harm take it from him.
And thus you see, good Cousin, that tribulation is double medicine,

both a cure of the sin past and a preservative from the sin that
is to come. And therefore in this kind of tribulation is there good
occasion of a double comfort; but that is (I say) diversely to sundry
diverse folks, as their own conscience is with sin cumbered or
Howbeit I will advise no man to be so bold as to think that their
tribulation is sent them to keep them from the pride of their holiness.
Let men leave that kind of comfort hardly to Saint Paul till their
living be like; but of the remnant may men well take great comfort
and good beside.
Of the third kind of tribulation, which is
not sent a man for his sin, but for
exercise of his patience and increase of his
merit, which is better than medicinable.
The Tenth Chapter
The third kind, Uncle, that remaineth now behind, that is
to wit, which is sent a man by God, and not for his sin neither
committed nor which would else come, and therefore is not medicinable
but sent for exercise of our patience and increase of our merit, and
therefore better than medicinable: though it be as you say, and as
indeed it is, better for the man than any of the other two kinds in
another world, where the reward shall be received: yet can I not see
by what reason a man may in this world, where the tribulation is
suffered, take any more comfort therein than in any of the other twain
that are sent a man for his sin; since he cannot here know whether
it be sent him for sins before committed, or sin that else should
fall, or for increase of merit and reward after to come; namely, since

every man hath cause enough to fear and to think that his sin
already past hath deserved it, and that it is not without peril a man
to think otherwise.
This that ye say, Cousin, hath place of truth in far the most part
of men, and therefore must they not envy nor disdain (since they
may take in their tribulation consolation for their part sufficient)
that some other that more be worthy, take yet a great deal more.
For, as I told you, Cousin, though the best man must confess himself
a sinner, yet be there many men (though to the multitude few) that
for the kind of their living, and thereby the clearness of their conscience,
may well and without sin have a good hope that God sendeth
them some great grief for exercise of their patience, and for
increase of their merit; as it appeareth, not only by Saint Paul in
the place before remembered, but also by that holy man Job, which
in sundry places of his dispicions with his burdenous comforters
letted not to say, that the clearness of his own conscience declared and
showed to himself that he deserved not that sore tribulation that
he then had. Howbeit, as I told you before, I will not advise every
man at adventure to be bold upon this manner of comfort. But yet
some men know I such, as I durst (for their more ease and comfort
in their great and grievous pain) put them in right good hope, that
God sendeth it unto them not so much for their punishment, as for
exercise of their patience. And some tribulations are there also
that grow upon such causes, that in these cases I would never
let, but always would without any doubt give that counsel and
comfort to any man.
What causes, good Uncle, be those?

Marry, Cousin, wheresoever a man falleth in tribulation for the
maintenance of justice, or for the defense of God's cause. For if I
should hap to find a man that had long lived a very virtuous life,
and had at last happed to fall into the Turks' hands, and there
did abide by the truth of his faith, and with the suffering of all kind
of torments taken upon his body, still did teach and testify the
truth, if I should in his passion give him spiritual comfort, might
I be bold to tell him no farther, but that he should take patience in
this pain, and that God sendeth it him for his sin, and that he is
well worthy to have it although it were yet much more? He might
well answer me and such other comforters, as Job answered
his, "Onerosi consolatores estis vos" (Burdenous and heavy comforters be
you). Nay, I would not fail to bid him boldly, while I should see him in
his passion, cast sin, and hell, and purgatory, and all upon the
devil's pate, and doubt not, but likewise as if he gave over his hold,
all his merit were lost, and he turned to misery; so if he stand and
persevere still in the confession of his faith, all his whole pain shall
turn all into glory.
Yea, more shall I yet say you than this: that if there were a Christian
man that had among those infidels committed a very deadly crime,
such as were worthy death, not only by their laws, but by Christ's too,
as manslaughter, adultery, or such other thing like, if when he were
taken he were offered pardon of his life, upon condition that he should
forsake the faith of Christ; if this man would now rather suffer death
than so do, should I comfort him in his pain but as I would a
malefactor? Nay, this man, though he should have died for his sin,
dieth now for Christ's sake, while he might live still, if he would forsake
him. The bare patient taking of his death should have served for
the satisfaction of his sin through the merit of Christ's Passion, I

mean, without help of which no pain of our own could be satisfactory.
But now shall Christ for his forsaking of his forsaking of his own
life in the honor of his faith, forgive the pain of all his sins of
his mere liberality, and accept all the pain of his death for merit
of reward in heaven, and shall assign no part thereof to the payment
of his debt in purgatory, but shall take it all as an offering, and requite
it all with glory; and this man among Christian men, all had he been
before a devil, nothing would I after doubt, to take him for a martyr.
Verily, good Uncle, methinketh this is said marvelously well, and
it especially delighteth and comforteth me to hear it, because of our
principal fear that I first spoke of, the Turks' cruel incursion into
this country of ours.
Cousin, as for the matter of that fear, I purpose to touch last of all,
nor I meant not here to speak thereof, had it not been that the vehemence
of your objection brought it in my way. But rather would I
else have put some example for this place, of such as suffer tribulation
for maintenance of right and justice, and that rather choose to take harm
than do wrong in any manner of matter. For surely if a man may
(as indeed he may) have great comfort in the clearness of his conscience,
that hath a false crime put upon him, and by false
witness proved upon him, and he falsely punished and put to worldly
shame and pain therefor; an hundred times more comfort may he have
in his heart that where white is called black, and right is called wrong,
abideth by the truth, and is persecuted for justice.
Then if a man sue me wrongfully for my land, in which myself

have good right, it is a comfort yet to defend it well, since God shall
give me thanks therefor.
Nay, nay, Cousin, nay: there walk ye somewhat wide; for there you
defend your own right for your temporal avail. And since Saint
Paul counseleth, "Non vosmet defendentes charissimi" (Defend not yourselves,
most dear friends): and our Savior counseleth, "Si qui vult
tecum in judicio contendere, et tunicam tuam tollere, dimitte ei et pallium"
(If a man will strive with thee at law, and take away thy coat, leave him
thy gown too): the defense, therefore, of our own right asketh no reward. Say,
you speed well, if ye get leave; look hardly for no thanks.
But, on the other side, if ye do as Saint Paul biddeth, "Querentes
non quae sua sunt sed quae aliorum" (Seek not for your own profit, but
for other folks'); but defend, therefore, of pity, a poor widow, or a poor
fatherless child, and rather suffer sorrow by some strong extortion,
than suffer them take wrong: or, if ye be a judge, and will have such
zeal to justice that ye will rather abide tribulation by the malice
of some mighty man, than judge wrong for his favor; such tribulations,
lo, be those that are better than only medicinable, and every
man upon whom they fall may be bold so to reckon them, and in his
deep trouble may well say to himself the words that Christ hath
taught him for his comfort, "Beati misericordes, quia misericordiam
consequentur" (Blessed be the merciful men, for they shall have mercy
given them); "Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam, quoniam
ipsorum est regnum celorum" (Blessed be they that suffer persecution for
justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven). Here is an high comfort,
lo, for them that are in the case. And in this case their own conscience
can show it them, and so may fulfill their hearts with spiritual joy, that

the pleasure may far surmount the heaviness and the grief of all their
temporal trouble. But God's nearer cause of faith against the Turks
hath yet a far passing comfort, and by many degrees far excelleth
this, which (as I have said) I purpose to treat last. And for this time
this sufficeth, concerning the special comfort that men may take in
this third kind of tribulation.
Another kind of comfort yet in the base
kind of tribulation sent for our sin.
The Eleventh Chapter
Of truth, good Uncle, albeit that every of these kinds of tribulation
have cause of comfort in them as ye have well declared, if men
will so consider them: yet hath this third kind above all a special
prerogative therein.
That is undoubtedly true; but yet is there not, good Cousin, the most
base kind of them all, but that yet hath more causes of comfort than
I have spoken of yet. For I have, ye wot well, in that kind that is sent
us for our sin, spoken of no other comfort yet but twain: that
is to wit, one, that it refraineth us from sin that else we would
fall in, and in that serveth us through the merit of Christ's Passion as
a means by which God keepeth us from hell; and serveth for the satisfaction
of such pain, as else we should endure in purgatory.
Howbeit there is therein another great cause of joy besides this.
For surely these pains here sent us for our sins, in whatsoever
wise they hap unto us, be our sin never so sore, nor never
so open and evident unto ourselves and all the world too; yet if we pray

for grace to take it meekly and patiently, and confessing to God that it
is far over little for our fault, beseech him yet, nevertheless, that
since we shall come hence so void of all good works whereof we should
have any reward in heaven, to be not only so merciful to us, as to
take that our present tribulation in release of our pain in purgatory,
but also so gracious unto us, as to take our patience therein for a matter
of merit and reward in heaven: I verily trust, and nothing doubt it, but
that God shall of his high bounty grant us our boon. For likewise as
in hell pain serveth only for punishment without any manner of
purging, because all possibility of purging is past; and in purgatory
punishment serveth for only purging, because the place of deserving
is past; so while we be yet in this world, in which is our place and
our time of merit and well deserving, the tribulation that is
sent us for our sin here shall (if we faithfully so desire), beside the
cleansing and purging of our pain, serve us also for increase of
And so shall, I suppose and trust in God's goodness, all such penance
and good works, as a man willingly performeth enjoined by his ghostly
father in confession, or which he willingly farther doth of his own
devotion beside. For though man's penance, with all the good works
that he can do, be not able to satisfy of themselves for the least
sin that we do; yet the liberal goodness of God through the merit
of Christ's bitter Passion, without which all our works could neither
satisfy nor deserve, nor yet do not in deed neither merit nor satisfy
so much as a spoonful to a great vesselful, in comparison of the
merit and satisfaction that Christ hath merited and satisfied for us himself:
this liberal goodness of God, I say, shall yet at our faithful
instance and request cause our penance and tribulation, patiently
taken in this world, to serve us in the other world, both for release
and reward, tempered after such rate as his high goodness and wisdom
shall see conveniently for us, whereof our blind mortality cannot
here imagine nor devise the stint. And thus hath yet even the

first kind of tribulation and the most base, though not fully so great
as the second, and very far less than the third, far greater cause of
comfort yet, than I spoke of before.
A certain objection against the things
The Twelfth Chapter
Verily, good Uncle, this liketh me very well; but yet is there (ye wot
well) some of these things now brought in question. For as for any
pain due for our sins to be diminished in purgatory by the patient
sufferance of our tribulation here; there are, ye wot well, many that
utterly deny that, and affirm for a sure truth, that there is no purgatory
at all. And then is (if they say true) the cause of that comfort gone,
if the comfort that we shall take be in vain and need not. They
say, ye wot well also, that men merit nothing at all, but God giveth
all for faith alone, and that it were sin and sacrilege to look for any
reward in heaven, either for our patient and glad suffering for God's
sake, or for any other good deed; and then is there gone (if this be
thus) the other cause of our farther comfort too.
Cousin, if some things were as they be not, then should some
things be as they shall not. I cannot indeed say nay, but that some
men of late have brought up some such opinions, and many more than
these besides, and have spread them abroad. And albeit that it is a right
heavy thing to see such variances in our belief rise and grow among ourselves,
to the great encouraging of the common enemies of us all, whereby

they have our faith in derision, and catch hope to overwhelm us all:
yet do there three things not a little comfort my mind.
The first is, that in some communications had of late together,
hath appeared good likelihood of some good agreement to grow in one
accord of our faith.
The second, that in the meanwhile till this may come to pass,
contentions, dispicions, with uncharitable behavior is prohibited
and forbidden in effect upon all parts: all such parts, I mean, as
fell before to fight for it.
The third is, that all Germany, for all their divers opinions, yet
as they agree together in profession of Christ's name, so agree they
now together in preparation of a common power in defense
of Christendom against our common enemy the Turk. And I trust
in God that this shall not only help us here to strengthen us in this
war, but also that as God hath caused them to agree together in the
defense of his name, so shall he graciously bring them to agree
together in the truth of his faith.
Therefore will I let God work and leave of contention, and nothing shall
I now say but that with which they that are themselves of the contrary
mind shall in reason have no cause to be discontent. For first,
as for purgatory, though they think there be none, yet since they deny
not that all the corps of Christendom by so many hundred years
have believed the contrary; and among them all the old interpreters
of scripture, from the apostles' days down to our own time, of
whom they deny not many for holy saints; that I dare not now
believe these men against all those, these men must of their courtesy
hold my poor fear excused. And I beseech our Lord heartily for them,
that when they depart out of this wretched world, they find no
purgatory at all: so God keep them from hell. And as for the
merit of man in his good works, neither are they that deny it full

agreed among themselves, nor any man is there almost of them all
that, since he began to write, hath not somewhat changed and varied from
himself; and far the more part are thus far agreed with us, that
like as we grant them that no good work is aught worth to heavenward
without faith, and that no good work of man is rewardable
in heaven of his own nature, but through the mere goodness of God that
list to set so high a price upon so poor a thing; and that this price God
setteth through Christ's Passion, and for that also that they be his own
works with us (for good works to Godward worketh no man without
God work with him), and as we grant them also that no man may
be proud of his works for his own imperfect working, and for that that
in all that man may do, he can do God no good, but is a servant
unprofitable, and doth but his bare duty; as we, I say, grant unto
them these things, so this one thing or twain do they grant us
again, that men are bound to work good works if they have time
and power; and that whoso worketh in true faith most, shall be
most rewarded. But then set they thereto, that all his reward shall be
given him for his faith alone, and nothing for his works at all, because
his faith is the thing (they say) that forceth him to work well. Strive
will I not with them for this matter now, but yet this I trust to the
great goodness of God, that if the question hang on that narrow point,
while Christ saith in the scripture in so many places, that men shall
in heaven be rewarded for their works, he shall never suffer our souls
that are but mean-witted men, and can understand his words but as
himself hath set them, and as old holy saints have construed them
before, and as all Christian people this thousand year have believed,
to be damned for lack of perceiving such a sharp subtle thing;
especially since some men that have right good wits, and are beside
that right well-learned too, can in no wise perceive, for what cause or
why these folk that from good works take away the reward, and
give the reward all whole to faith alone, give the reward to faith, rather
than to charity. For this grant they themselves, that faith
serveth of nothing but if she be companied with her sister charity.

And then saith the scripture too: "Fides, spes, caritas: tria haec,
maior autem horum caritas" (Of the three virtues, faith, hope, and
charity, of all these three the greatest is charity), and therefore as worthy
to have the thanks as faith. Howbeit, as I said, I will not strive therefor,
nor indeed, as our matter standeth, I shall not greatly need. For if
they say, that he which suffereth tribulation or martyrdom for the
faith, shall have high reward, not for his work but for his well-working
faith; yet since that they grant that have it he shall, the cause
of the high comfort in the third kind of tribulation standeth, and that
is, ye wot well, the effect of all my purpose.
Verily, good Uncle, this is truly driven and tried out to the uttermost,
as it seemeth me. I pray you, proceed at your pleasure.
That a man ought to be comfortable to
himself, and have good hope, and be joyful
also in tribulation, appeareth well by this,
that a man hath great cause of fear and
heaviness that continueth always still in
wealth, discontinued with no tribulation.
The Thirteenth Chapter
Cousin, it were too long work to peruse every comfort that a man
may well take in tribulation. For as many comforts (ye wot well) may a
man take thereof as there be good commodities therein; and that be there
surely so many, that it would be very long to rehearse and treat of them.
But meseemeth we cannot lightly better perceive what profit and

commodity, and thereby what comfort they may take of it that have it,
than if we well consider what harm the lack is, and thereby what discomfort
the lack thereof should be to them that never have it. So it is
now, that all holy men agree, and all the scripture is full, and our own
experience proveth at our eye, that we be not come into this wretched
world to dwell here, nor have not (as Saint Paul saith) our dwelling
city here, but we be seeking for the city that is to come; and therefore
Saint Paul showeth us that we do seek for it, because he would put us
in mind that we should seek for it, as they that are good folk, and fain
would come thither, do.
For surely whoso setteth so little thereby that he listeth not to seek
therefor, it will be, I fear me, long ere he come thereat, and
marvelous great grace if he ever come thither. "Sic currite," saith Saint
Paul, "ut comprehendatis" (Run so, that ye may get it). If it must then
be gotten with running, when shall he come at it that list not once to
step toward it?
Now because this world is, as I tell you, not our eternal dwelling,
but our little while wandering, God would that we should in such wise
use it, as folk that were weary of it; and that we should in this vale
of labor, toil, tears, and misery, not look for rest and ease, game,
pleasure, wealth, and felicity. For they that so do fare like a fond
fellow, that going toward his own house where he should be wealthy,
would for a tapster's pleasure become an hostler by the way and die
in a stable, and never come at home.
And would God that those that drown themselves in the desire of this
world's wretched wealth, were not yet more fools than so! But, alas!
their folly as far passeth the foolishness of that other fond fellow, as
there is distance between the height of heaven and the very depth of
hell. For as our Savior saith, "Vae vobis qui ridetis nunc, quia lugebitis et
flebitis" (Woe may you be that laugh now, for you shall
wail and weep). "Est tempus flendi" (saith the scripture) "et est tempus

ridendi" (There is time of weeping and there is time of laughing). But, as
you see, he setteth the weeping time before; for that is the time of
this wretched world, and the laughing time shall come after in heaven.
There is also a time of sowing, and a time of reaping too. Now must
we in this world sow, that we may in the other world reap; and in
this short sowing time of this weeping world, must we water our seed
with the showers of our tears; and then shall we have in heaven a merry
laughing harvest for ever. "Euntes ibant et flebant" (saith the Prophet)
"mittentes semina sua" (They went forth sowing their seeds weeping).
But what, saith he, shall follow thereof? "Venientes autem venient cum
exultatione, portantes manipulos suos" (They shall come again more than
laughing, with great joy and exultation, with their handfuls of corn
in their hands).
Lo, they that in their going home towards heaven sow their seeds
with weeping, shall at the day of judgment come to their bodies again,
with everlasting plenty, laughing. And for to prove that this life
is no laughing time, but rather the time of weeping; we find that
our Savior himself wept twice or thrice, but never find we that
he laughed so much as once. I will not swear that he never
did, but at the leastwise he left us no examples of it. But, on the other
side, he left us example of weeping. Of weeping have we matter enough,
both for our own sins, and for other folks' too; for surely so should we do,
bewail their wretched sins, and not be glad to detract them, nor envy
them neither. Alas! silly souls what cause is there to envy them that
are ever wealthy in this world, and ever out of tribulation? which (as
Job saith) "ducunt in bonis dies suos, et in puncto ad inferna descendunt"
(lead all their days in wealth, and in a moment of an hour descend into
their graves), and be painfully buried in hell. Saint Paul saith to the
Hebrews, that God those that he loveth, he chastiseth. "Et flagellat omnem
filium quem recipit" (And he scourgeth every son of his that he
receiveth). Saint Paul saith also, "Per multas tribulaciones oportet nos

introire in regnum Dei" (By many tribulations must we go into the
kingdom of God). And no marvel, for as our Savior said himself
unto his two disciples that were going into the castle of Emmaus,
"An nesciebatis, quia oportebat Christum pati, et sic introire in regnum suum?"
(Know you not, that Christ must suffer, and so go into his kingdom?)
And would we, that are servants, look for more privilege in
our master's house than our master himself? Would we get into his
kingdom with ease, when he himself got not into his own but by
pain? His kingdom hath he ordained for his disciples, and he saith
unto us all, "Qui vult meus esse discipulus, tollat crucem suam, et sequatur
me" (If any man will be my disciple, let him learn at me to do as I have
done, take his cross of tribulation upon his back and follow me). He
saith not here, lo, let him laugh, and make merry.
Now, if heaven serve but for Christ's disciples, and they be those that
take their cross of tribulation; when shall these folk come there,
that never have tribulation? And if it be true that Saint Paul saith,
that God chastiseth all them that he loveth, and scourgeth every child
that he receiveth, and to heaven shall none come but such as he loveth
and receiveth, when shall they then come thither whom he never
chastiseth, nor never do vouchsafe to defile his hands upon them, and
give them so much as one lash? And if we cannot (as Saint Paul
saith we cannot) come to heaven but by many tribulations, how shall
they come thither then, that never have none at all?
Thus see we well by the very scripture itself, how true the words
are of the old holy saints, that with one voice in a manner say all one
thing, that is to wit, that we shall not have both continual wealth
in this world and in the other too. And therefore, since they that in
this world without any tribulation enjoy their long continual course
of never interrupted prosperity, have a great cause of fear and discomfort
lest they be far fallen out of God's favor, and stand deep

in his indignation and displeasure, while he never sendeth them tribulation,
which he is ever wont to send them whom he loveth; they
therefore, I say, that are in tribulation, have on the other side a great
cause to take in their grief great inward comfort and spiritual consolation.
A certain objection, and the answer thereto.
The Fourteenth Chapter
Verily, good Uncle, this seemeth so, indeed. Howbeit, yet, methinketh
that you say very sore in some thing concerning such persons as
are in continual prosperity; and they be, ye wot well, not a few,
and those are they also that have the rule and authority of
this world in their hand. And I wot well, that when they talk with
such great cunning men, as (I trow) can tell the truth; and when they
ask them whether (while they make merry here in earth all their life)
they may not yet for all that have heaven after too; they do tell them,
yes, yes, well enough: for I have heard them tell them so myself.
I suppose, good Cousin, that no very wise man, and especially none
that very good is therewith, will tell any man fully of that fashion.
But surely such as so say to them, I fear me that they flatter them,
either for lucre or fear. Some of them think peradventure thus:
This man maketh much of me now, and giveth me money also to fast and
watch and pray for him; but so I fear me would he do no more, if I
should go tell him now, that all that I do for him will not serve him,
but if he go fast, and watch, and pray for himself too. For if I should set
thereto and say further, that my diligent intercession for him should (I

trust) be the means that God should the sooner give him grace to amend,
and fast, and watch, and pray, and take affliction in his own body for the
bettering of his sinful soul he would be wondrous wroth with
that. For he would be loath to have any such grace at all as should make
him go leave off any of his mirth, and so sit and mourn for his sin. Such
mind as this is, lo, have there some of those that are not unlearned, and
have worldly wit at will, which tell great men such tales as perilously
beguile them, rather than the flatterer that so telleth them
would with a true tale jeopard to lose his lucre.
Some are there also that such tales tell them for consideration of
another fear. For seeing the man so sore set on his pleasure that they
despair any amendment of him whatsoever they should show him,
and then seeing also besides that the man doth no great harm, but
of a gentle nature doth some good men some good; they pray God
themselves to send him grace, and so they let him lie lame still in his
fleshly lusts "ad probaticam piscinam, expectantes aquae motum" at the
pool that the Gospel speaketh of beside the Temple, wherein they
washed the sheep for the sacrifice, and they tarry to see the water
stirred. And when his good angel coming from God shall once begin
to stir the water of his heart, and move him to the lowly
meekness of a simple sheep, then if he call them to him they will
tell him another tale, and help to bear him and plunge him into the
pool of penance over the hard ears. But in the meanwhile, for
fear lest when he would wax never the better he would wax much the
worse, and from gentle, smooth, sweet, and courteous, wax angry, rough,
froward, and sour, and thereupon be troublous and tedious to the
world; to make fair weather withal, they give him fair words for
the while, and put him in good comfort, and let him for the remnant
stand at his own adventure. And in such wise deal they with him
as the mother doth sometimes with her child, which, when the little
boy would not rise for her in time, but lie still abed and slug, and

when he is up weepeth because he hath lain so long, fearing to be beaten
at school for his late coming thither; she telleth him it is but early
days, and he shall come time enough, and biddeth him go, good son, I warrant
thee, I have sent to thy master myself, take thy bread and butter
with thee, thou shalt not be beaten at all. And (so thus she may
send him merry forth at door, that he weep not in her sight at home)
she studieth not much upon the matter, though he be taken tardy,
and beaten when he cometh to school. Surely thus, I fear me, fare there
many friars and states' chaplains too, in comfort giving to great men
when they be loath to displease them. I cannot commend their thus
doing, but surely thus I fear me they do.
Other objections.
The Fifteenth Chapter
But yet, good Uncle, though some do thus, this answereth not
full the matter. For we see that the whole Church in the common service
useth diverse Collects, in which all men pray specially for the princes and
the prelates, and generally every man for other, and for himself too, that
God would vouchsafe to send them all perpetual health and prosperity.
And I can see no good man pray God send another sorrow, nor no such
prayers are there put in the priest's porteous, as far as I can hear.
And yet if it were as you say, good Uncle, that perpetual prosperity
were to the soul so perilous, and tribulation thereto so
fruitful; then were (as meseemeth) every man bound of charity, not
only to pray God send their neighbors sorrow, but also to help thereto
themselves. And when folk are sick, not pray God send them health,
but when they come to comfort them they should say, I am glad, good

gossip, that ye be so sick, I pray God keep you long therein. And
neither should any man give any medicine to other, nor take any
medicine himself neither; for by the diminishing of the tribulation,
he taketh away part of the profit from his soul, which can by no
bodily profit be sufficiently recompensed.
And also this wot ye well, good Uncle, that we read in holy scripture
of men that were wealthy and rich, and yet were very good withal. Solomon
was, ye wot well, the richest and the wealthiest king that any man
could in his time tell of, and yet was he well-beloved with God.
Job was also no beggar, pardie, nor no wretch otherwise, nor lost
his riches and his wealth for that God would not that his friend should
have wealth, but for the show of his patience, to the increase of his
merit, and confusion of the devil; and for proof that prosperity may
stand with God's favor, "Reddidit Deus Iob omnia duplicia" (God restored
him double of all) that ever he lost, and gave him after long life to take
his pleasure long. Abraham was eke, ye wot well, a man of great
substance, and so continued all his life in honor and in wealth; yea, and
when he died, too, he went into such wealth that Lazarus, which died
in tribulation and poverty, the best place that he came to, was that
rich man's bosom. Finally, good Uncle, this we find at our eye, and every
day we perceive it by plain experience, that many a man is right
wealthy, and yet therewith right good, and many a man a miserable
wretch as evil as he is wretched. And therefore it seemeth hard, good
Uncle, that between prosperity and tribulation the matter should go thus,
that tribulation should be given always by God to all those he loveth for
a sign of salvation, and prosperity sent for displeasure as a token of
eternal damnation.

The answer to the objections.
The Sixteenth Chapter
Either I said not, Cousin, or else meant I not to say, that for an undoubted
rule worldly pleasure were always displeasant to God,
or tribulation evermore wholesome to every man. For well wot I, that
our Lord giveth in this world unto every sort of folk, either sort of
fortune. "Et facit solem suum oriri super bonos et malos, et pluit super iustos
et iniustos" (He maketh his sun to shine both upon the good and
the bad, and his rain to rain both on the just and the unjust). And
on the other side, "flagellat omnem filium quem recipit" (He scourgeth every
son that he receiveth). And yet he beateth not only good folk that
he loveth, but "multa flagella peccatoris" too (There are many scourges
for sinners also).
He giveth evil folk good fortune in this world, both to call them
by kindness, and if they thereby come not, the more is their unkindness;
and yet where wealth will not bring them, he giveth them sometimes
sorrow. And some that in prosperity cannot to God creep forward,
in tribulation they run toward him apace. "Multiplicatae sunt infirmitates
eorum, postea acceleraverunt" (Their infirmities were multiplied),
saith the Prophet, (and after that they made haste).
To some that are good men God sendeth wealth here also,
and they give him great thanks for his gift, and he rewardeth them
for that thanks too. To some good folk he sendeth sorrow, and they
thank him thereof too. If God should give the goods of this world only
to evil folk, then would men ween that God were not lord thereof.
If God would give the goods only to good men, then would folk take
occasion to serve him but for them.
Some will in wealth fall into folly. "Homo cum in honore esset, non intellexit:

comparatus est iumentis insipientibus, et similis factus est illis" (When man
was in honor his understanding failed him; then was he compared
with beasts, and made like unto them).
Some man with tribulation will fall into sin, and therefore, saith
the Prophet: "Non relinquet Dominus virgam peccatorum super sortem iustorum,
ut non extendant iusti ad iniquitatem manus suas" (God will not leave the rod
of wicked men upon the lot of righteous men, lest the righteous
peradventure hap to extend and stretch out their hands to iniquity).
So say I not nay, but that in either state, wealth or
tribulation may be matter of virtue and matter of vice also: but this is
the point, lo, that standeth here in question between you and me;
not whether every prosperity be a perilous token, but whether
continual wealth in this world without any tribulation be a fearful
sign of God's indignation. And therefore this mark that we must
shoot at, set up well in our sight, we shall now mete for the shoot, and
consider how near toward, or how far off; your arrows are from the
Some of my bolts, Uncle, will I now take up myself, and prettily
put them under my belt again. For some of them, I see well, be not
worth the meting; and no great marvel, though I shoot wide,
while I somewhat mistake the mark.
Those that make toward the mark and light far too short, when
the shot is mete shall I take up for you. To prove that perpetual wealth
should be no evil token, you lay first, that for princes and prelates, and
every man for other, we pray all for perpetual prosperity,
and that in the common prayers of the Church too.

Then say you, secondly, that if prosperity were so perilous, and tribulation
so profitable, every man ought then to pray God to send other
Thirdly, ye further your objections with examples of Solomon, Job,
and Abraham.
And, fourthly, in the end of all, you prove by experience of our own
time daily before our face, that some wealthy folk are good, and some
needy very naught. That last bolt since I lie the same myself, you may
be content to take up, it lieth so far wide.
That will I with good will, Uncle.
Well, do so then, Cousin, and we shall mete for the remnant. First
must you, Cousin, be sure that, you look well to the mark, and that
can you not, but if ye know what thing tribulation is. For since that is
one of the things that we principally speak of, but if you consider
well what thing that is, you may miss the mark again.
I suppose now that you will agree that tribulation is every
such thing as troubleth and grieveth the man, either in body or in
mind, and is, as it were, the prick of a thorn, a bramble, or a brier thrust
into his flesh, or into his mind. And surely, Cousin, the prick that very
sore pricketh the mind, as far almost passeth in pain the grief that
paineth the body, as doth a thorn that sticketh in the heart pass and
exceed in pain the thorn that is thrust in the heel.
Now, Cousin, if tribulation be this that I call it, then shall you soon
consider this, that there be more kinds of tribulation than peradventure
ye thought on before. And thereupon it followeth also, that

since every kind of tribulation is an interruption of wealth, prosperity
(which is but of wealth another name) may be discontinued by more
ways than you would before have weened;
then say I thus unto you, Cousin, that since tribulation is not only
such pains as pain the body, but every trouble also that grieveth
the mind, many good men have many tribulations that every man
marketh not, and consequently their wealth interrupted therewith, when
other men are not aware. For trow you, Cousin, that the temptations
of the devil, the world and the flesh, soliciting the mind of a
good man to sin, is not a great inward trouble and secret grief in his
To such wretches as care not for their conscience, but like unreasonable
beasts, follow their foul affections, many of these temptations
be no trouble at all, but matter of their beastly pleasure. But unto
him, Cousin, that standeth in dread of God, the tribulation of
temptation is so painful, that to be rid thereof, or sure of the victory
therein (be his substance never so great) he would gladly give more
than half.
Now, if he that careth not for God think this trouble but a trifle,
and with such tribulation, prosperity not interrupted; let him cast in
his mind, if himself hap upon a fervent longing for the thing
which get he cannot (and as a good man will not), as percase his
pleasure of some certain good woman that will not be naught, and
then let him tell me whether the ruffle of his desire shall so torment
his mind, as all the pleasures that he can take beside shall, for lack of
that one, not please him of a pin. And I dare be bold to
warrant him that the pain in resisting, and the great fear of falling,
that many a good man hath in his temptation, is an anguish and a
grief every deal as great as his.
Now say I further, Cousin, that if this be true, as in very deed true
it is, that such trouble is tribulation, and thereby consequently an interruption
of prosperous wealth; no man precisely meaneth to pray for

other to keep him in continual prosperity without any manner of
discontinuance or change in this world. For that prayer, without
any other condition added or implied, were inordinate, and were
very childish. For it were to pray, that either they should never have
temptation; or else that if they had, they might follow it and fulfill their
Who dare, good Cousin, for shame, or for sin, for himself, or any
man else, make this manner kind of prayer? Besides this, Cousin, the
Church, ye wot well, adviseth every man to fast, to watch, and pray,
both for taming of his fleshly lusts, and also to mourn and lament his
sin before committed, and to bewail his offenses done against God,
and (as they did at the city of Nineveh, and as the prophet David
did, for their sin) put affliction unto their flesh. And when a man
so doth, Cousin, is this no tribulation to him because he doth it himself?
For I wot well ye would agree that it were, if another man did it
against his will. Then is tribulation, ye wot well, tribulation still,
though it be taken well in worth; yea, and though it be taken with very
right good will, yet is pain, ye wot well, pain, and therefore so is it
though a man do it himself.
Then, since the Church adviseth every man to take tribulation for
his sin; whatsoever words you find in any prayer, they never
mean (ye may be fast and sure) to pray God to keep every good man,
nor every bad man neither, from every manner kind of tribulation.
Now he that is not in some kind of tribulation, as peradventure
in sickness or in loss of goods, is not yet out of tribulation, if he
have his ease of body or of mind unquieted, and thereby his wealth
interrupted with another kind of tribulation, as is either temptation
to a good man, or voluntary affliction, either of body by penance,
or of mind by contrition and heaviness for his sin and offense against
And thus, I say, that for precise perpetual wealth and prosperity
in this wretched world, that is to say, for the perpetual lack of all

trouble and all tribulation, there is no wise man that either prayeth
for himself or for any man else. And thus answer I your first
Now, before I meddle with your second, your third will I join unto
this. For upon this answer will the solution of your examples
conveniently depend. As for Solomon was, as you say, all his days
a marvelous wealthy king, and much was he beloved with God, I wot
well, in the beginning of his reign; but that the favor of God persevered
with him, as his prosperity did, that can I not tell. And therefore
will I not warrant it; but surely we see that his continual wealth
made him fall, first into such wanton folly in multiplying wives to
an horrible number, contrary to the commandment of God given
in the law by Moses; and secondly, taking to wife among other such
as were infidels, contrary to another commandment of God's written
law also; that finally, by the means of his miscreant wife, he fell
into the maintenance of idolatry himself; and of this
find we no amendment or repentance, as we find of his father.
And therefore, though he were buried where his father was, yet whether
he went to the rest that his father did, through some secret sorrow for
his sin at last, that is to say, by some kind of tribulation, I cannot
tell, and am therefore content to trust well, and pray God he did so,
but surely we be not sure. And therefore the example of Solomon can
very little serve you; for you might as well lay it for a proof that God
favoreth idolatry, as that he favoreth prosperity; for Solomon was,
ye wot well, in both.
As for Job, since our question hangeth upon perpetual prosperity,
the wealth of Job that was with so great adversity so sore interrupted,
can (as yourself seeth) serve you for no example. And that God gave
him here in this world all thing double that he lost, little toucheth
my matter, which deny not prosperity to be God's gift, and given
to some good men too, namely, such as have tribulation too.

But in Abraham, Cousin, I suppose is all your chief hold, because that
you not only show riches and prosperity perpetual in him through
the course of all his whole life in this world, but that after his death
also, Lazarus, the poor man that lived in tribulation, and died for
pure hunger and thirst, had after his death his place comfort and rest
in Abraham, the wealthy, rich man's bosom. But here must you
consider, that Abraham had not such continual prosperity, but
that it was discontinued with divers tribulations. Was it nothing
to him, trow ye, to leave his own country, and at God's sending,
to go into a strange land, which God promised him and his seed for
ever but in all his whole life he gave himself never a foot?
Was it no trouble that his cousin Lot and himself were fain
to part company, because their servants could not agree together?
Though he recovered Lot again from the three kings, was his
taking no trouble to him, trow you, in the meanwhile?
Was the destruction of the five cities no heaviness to his heart?
A man would ween yes, that readeth in the story what labor he made
to save them.
His heart was, I dare say, in no little sorrow, when he was fain to let
Abimelech, the king, have his wife, whom (though God provided to
keep undefiled and turned all to wealth), yet was it no little woe to him
for the meantime?
What a continual grief was it to his heart many a long day, that
he had no child of his own body begotten: he that doubteth thereof
shall find it in Genesis of his own moan made to God.
No man doubteth but Ishmael was great comfort to him at his
birth; and was it no grief then, when he was cast out -- the mother and
the child both?

Isaac, that was the child of promise, although God kept his life
that was unlooked for; yet, while the loving father bound him, and
went about to behead him, and offer him up in sacrifice: who but himself
can conceive what heaviness his heart had then? I would ween in
my mind (because you speak of Lazarus) that Lazarus's own death panged
him not so sore. Then, as Lazarus's pain was patiently borne, so was
Abraham's taken not only patiently, but (which is a thing much
more meritorious) of obedience, willingly. And therefore, though Abraham
had not (as he did, indeed) far excelled Lazarus in merit of reward
for many other things beside, and specially for that he was a special
patriarch of the faith, yet had he far passed him even by the merit
of tribulation, well taken here for God's sake too. And so serveth
for your purpose no man less than Abraham.
But now, good Cousin, let us look a little longer here upon the rich
Abraham and Lazarus the poor, and as we shall see Lazarus sit in
wealth somewhat under the rich Abraham, so shall we see another
rich man lie full low beneath Lazarus, crying and calling out of his
fiery couch that Lazarus might with a drop of water falling from his
finger's end, a little cool and refresh the tip of his burning tongue.
Consider well now what Abraham answered to the rich wretch:
"fili, recordare quia recepisti bona in vita tua, et Lazarus similiter mala: nunc
autem hic consolatur, tu vero cruciaris" (Son, remember that thou hast
in the life received wealth, and Lazarus in like wise pain; but now
receiveth he comfort, and thou sorrow, pain, and torment).
Christ describeth his wealth and his prosperity, gay and soft apparel,
with royal delicate fare, continually day by day. "Epulabatur," saith
our Savior, "quotidie splendide" (He did fare royally every day). His wealth
was continual, lo, no time of tribulation between. And
Abraham telleth him the same tale, that he had taken his wealth in
this world, and Lazarus likewise his pain: and that they had now
changed each to the clean contrary: poor Lazarus from tribulation
into wealth, and the rich man from this continual prosperity into perpetual

Here was laid expressly to Lazarus no very great virtue by name,
nor to this rich glutton no great heinous crime, but the taking
of his continual ease and pleasure without any tribulation or grief,
whereof grew sloth and negligence to think upon the poor man's
pain. For that ever himself saw Lazarus and wist him die for hunger
at his door, that laid neither Christ nor Abraham to his charge. And
therefore, Cousin, this story, lo, of which by occasion of Abraham and Lazarus
you put me in remembrance, well declareth what peril is in
continual worldly wealth, and contrariwise what comfort cometh of
tribulation. And thus as your other examples of Solomon and Job
nothing for the matter further you; so your example of the rich Abraham
and poor Lazarus hath not a little hindered you.
An answer to the second objection.
The Seventeenth Chapter
Surely, Uncle, you have shaken mine example sore, and have in
your meting of your shot moved me these arrows, methinketh, further from
the prick than methought they stack when I shot them. And I shall
now be content to take them up again. But yet meseemeth surely,
that my second shaft may stand. For of truth, if every kind of tribulation
be so profitable, that it be good to have it, as you say it is: I
cannot see wherefore any man should wish or pray, or any manner thing
do, to have any kind of tribulation withdrawn, either from himself
or any friend of his.
I think in very deed tribulation so good and so profitable, that
I should haply doubt as ye do wherefore a man might labor or pray

to be delivered of it, saving that God which teacheth us the one, teacheth
us also the other. And as he biddeth us take our pain patiently,
and exhort our neighbors to do also the same: so biddeth he us also
not let to do our devoir, to remove the pain from us both. And
then when it is God that teacheth both, I shall not need to break
our brain in devising wherefore he would bid us do both, the one
seeming to resist the other.
If he send the scourge of scarcity and of great famine, he will we
shall bear it patiently; but yet would he that we should eat our meat
when we can hap to get it.
If he send us the plague of pestilence, he will that we shall patiently take
it; but yet will he that we let us blood, and lay plasters to draw it, and
ripe it, and lance it, and get it away. Both these points teacheth
God in scripture in more than many places.
Fasting is better than eating, and more thanks hath of God; and
yet will God that we shall eat. Praying is better than drinking, and
much more pleasant to God; and yet will God that we shall drink. Waking
in good business is much more acceptable to God than sleeping;
and yet will God that we shall sleep.
God hath given us our bodies here to keep, and will that we maintain
them to do him service with, till he send for us hence. Now can
we not surely tell how much tribulation may mar it, or peradventure
hurt the soul also? Wherefore the Apostle, after that he had
commanded the Corinthians to deliver to the devil the abominable
fornicator that forbear not the bed of his own father's wife: yet after
that he had been awhile accursed and punished for his sin, the Apostle
commanded them charitably to receive him again and give him
consolation. "Ut non a magnitudine doloris absorbeatur" (that the greatness
of his sorrow should not swallow him up).
And therefore when God sendeth the tempest, he will that the shipmen
shall get them to their tackling, and do the best they can for themselves,

that the seas eat them not up. For help ourselves as well as we
can, he can make his plague as sore, and as long lasting, as himself
list. And as he will that we do for ourselves, so will he that we do
for our neighbors too: and that we shall in this world be each to
other piteous, and not sine affectione, for which the Apostle rebuketh
them that lack their tender affections: so that of charity sorry
should we be for their pains too, upon whom (for cause necessary)
we be driven ourselves to put it. And whoso saith, that for pity of
his neighbor's soul he will have none of his body, let him be sure
that (as Saint John saith) he that loveth not his neighbor whom he
seeth, loveth God but a little whom he seeth not. So that he that hath no
pity on the pain that he feeleth his neighbor feel before him, pitieth
little (whatsoever he saith) the pain of his soul that he seeth not
yet. God sendeth us also such tribulation sometimes, because his
pleasure is to have us pray unto him for help. And therefore, when
Saint Peter was in prison, the scripture showeth that the whole Church
without intermission prayed incessantly for him; and that at their fervent
prayer God by miracle delivered him.
When the disciples in the tempest stood in fear of drowning, they
prayed unto Christ and said, "Salva nos, Domine, perimus" (Save us, Lord, we
perish). And then at their prayer he shortly ceased the tempest. And
now see we proved often, that in sore weather or sickness, by general processions
God giveth gracious help. And many a man in his
great pain and sickness by calling upon God is marvelously made whole.
This is God's goodness, that because in wealth we remember him
not, but forget to pray to him, sendeth us sorrow and sickness to force us
to draw toward him, and compelleth us to call upon him and pray
for release of our pain. Whereby when we learn to know him, and seek
to him, we take a good occasion to fall after into farther grace.

Of them that in tribulation seek not unto
God, but some to the flesh, and some to the
world, and some to the devil himself.
The Eighteenth Chapter
Verily, good Uncle, with this good answer am I well content.
Yea, Cousin, but many men are there with whom God is not
content, which abuse this great high goodness of his, whom neither
fair treating, nor hard handling, can cause to remember their
Maker; but in wealth they be wanton and forget God, and follow their lust,
and when God with tribulation draweth them toward him, then
wax they wood, and draw back all that ever they may, and
rather run and seek help at any other hand, than to go fetch it at his.
Some for comfort seek to the flesh, some to the world, and some to
the devil himself.
Some man that in worldly prosperity is very full of wealth, and hath
deep stepped into many a sore sin which sins, when he did them,
he counted for part of his pleasure: God willing of his goodness to
call the man to grace, casteth a remorse into his mind among after his
first sleep, and maketh him lie a little while and bethink him. Then
beginneth he to remember his life and from that he falleth to think
upon his death, and how he must leave all this worldly wealth within a
while behind here in this world, and walk hence alone, he wotteth not
whether, nor how soon he shall take his journey thither, nor can tell
what company he shall meet there. And then beginneth he to think
that it were good to make sure, and to be merry, so that we be wise

therewith, lest there hap to be such black bugs indeed as folk call
devils whose torments he was wont to take for poets' tales.
Those thoughts, if they sink deep, are a sore tribulation.
And surely if he take hold of the grace that God therein offereth him, his
tribulation is wholesome and shall be full comfortable, to remember that
God by this tribulation calleth him, and biddeth him come home
out of the country of sin that he was bred and brought up so long
in, and come into the land of behest that floweth with milk and honey.
And then if he follow this calling (as many one full well doth) joyful
shall his sorrow be, and glad shall he be to change his life, leave his
wanton lusts, and do penance for his sins, bestowing his time
upon better business. But some men now, when this calling of God
causeth them to be sad, they be loath to leave their sinful lusts that
hang in their hearts, and especially if they have any such kind of living
as they must leave off, or fall deeper in sin: or if they have done so
many great wrongs that they have many amends to make, that
must (if they follow God) diminish much their money, then are these
folk (alas!) woefully bewrapped. For God pricketh upon them of his
great goodness still, and the grief of this great pang pincheth them by
the heart, and of wickedness they wry away, and from this tribulation
they turn to their flesh for help, and labor to shake off this thought,
and then they amend their pillow, and lay their head softer, and assay
to sleep; and when that will not be then they find a talk awhile with
them that lie by them. If that cannot be neither, then they lie and
long for day, and then get them forth about their worldly wretchedness
the matter of their prosperity, the selfsame sinful things with
which they displease God most, and at length with many times
using this manner God utterly casteth them off. And then they set naught

neither by God nor devil. "Peccator cum in profundum venerit, contempnit"
(When the sinner cometh into the depth, then he contemneth)
and setteth naught by nothing, saving worldly fear that may fall by
chance, or that needs must (they wot well) fall once by death.
But alas! when death cometh, then cometh again his sorrow;
then will no soft bed serve, nor no company make him merry. Then
must he leave his outward worship and comfort of his glory, and he lie
panting in his bed as it were on a pin-bank; then cometh his
fear of his evil life and of his dreadful death. Then cometh the
torment of his cumbered conscience, and fear of his heavy judgment. Then
the devil draweth him to despair with imagination of hell, and
suffereth him not then to take it for a fable. And yet if he do; then
findeth it the wretch no fable. Ah! woe worth the while that folk think
not of this in time.
God sendeth to some man great trouble in his mind, and great
tribulation about his worldly goods, because he would of his
goodness take his delight and his confidence from them. And yet the man
withdraweth no part of his fond fantasies, but falleth more fervently
to them than before and setteth his whole heart like a fool more upon
them; and then he taketh him all to the devices of his worldly counselors,
and without any counsel of God, or any trust put in him,
maketh many wise ways as he weeneth, and all turn at length to folly,
and one subtle drift driveth another to naught.
Some have I seen even in their last sickness sit up in their deathbed
underpropped with pillows, take their playfellows to them, and comfort
themselves with cards, and this (they said) did ease them well to
put fantasies out of their heads: and what fantasies trow you?
Such as I told you right now, of their own lewd life and peril of their
soul, of heaven and of hell that irked them to think of, and therefore

cast it out with card play as long as ever they might, till the pure
pangs of death pulled their heart from their play, and put them in the
case they could not reckon their game. And then left they their
gamesters, and slyly slunk away; and long was it not ere they galped
up the ghost. And what game they came then to, that God knoweth,
and not I. I pray God it were good, but I fear it very sore.
Some men are there also, that do (as did King Saul) in their
tribulation go seek unto the devil. This king had commanded all
such to be destroyed, as use the false abominable superstition of this
ungracious witchcraft and necromancy, and yet fell he to such folly
afterward himself, that ere he went to battle he sought unto a
witch, and besought her to raise up a dead man to tell him how he
should speed.
Now had God showed him before by Samuel, that he should come
to naught, and he went about none amendment, but waxed
worse and worse, so that God list not to look to him. And when he
sought by the prophets to have answer of God, there came none answer
to him, which thing he thought strange. And because he was
not with God heard at his pleasure, he made suit to the devil,
desiring a woman by witchcraft to raise up dead Samuel; but speed
had he such thereof, as commonly they have all, that in their business
meddle with such matters. For an evil answer had he, and an evil speed
thereafter, his army discomfited and himself slain. And as it is rehearsed
in Paralipomenon, the tenth chapter of the first book, one cause of
his fall was, for lack of trust in God, for which he left to take counsel
of God, and fell to seek counsel of the witch against God's prohibition
in the law, and against his own good deed, by which he punished and
put out all witches so late afore. Such speed let them look for, that
play the same part as I see many do, that in a great loss send to
such a conjurer to get their gear again and marvelous things there
they see sometimes, but never groat of their good.

And many fond fools are there, that when they be sick, will meddle
with no physic in no manner wise, nor send his water to no cunning
man, but send his cap or his hose to a wise woman, otherwise
called a witch. Then sendeth she word again, that she hath spied
in his hose where, when he took no heed, he was taken with a
sprite between two doors as he went in the twilight, but the sprite
would not let him feel it in five days after; and it hath the while
festered in his body, and that is the grief that paineth him so sore.
But let him go to no leechcraft, nor any manner of physic, other than
good meat and strong drink, for syrups should souse him up. But
he shall have five leaves of valerian that she enchanted with a charm,
and gathered with her left hand: let him lay those five leaves to his
right thumb, not bind fast to, but let it hang loose thereat by a
green thread: he shall never need to change it, look it fall not
away, but let it hang till he be whole, and he shall need no more.
In such wise witches, and in such mad medicines have their souls more
faith a great deal, than in God. And thus, Cousin, as I tell you, all these
kind of folk that in their tribulation call not upon God, but
seek for their ease and help otherwise, to the flesh and the world, and to
the flinging fiend; the tribulation that God's goodness sendeth
them for good, themselves by their folly turn unto their harm. And
they that on the other side seek unto God therein, both comfort and
profit they greatly take thereby.

Another objection, with the answers thereunto.
The Nineteenth Chapter
I like well, good Uncle, all your answers herein; but one doubt yet
remaineth there in my mind, which riseth upon this answer that
you make, and that doubt soiled, I will as for this time, mine own good
Uncle, encumber you no further. For methink I do you very much
wrong, to give you occasion to labor yourself so much in matter of
some study, with long talking at once. I will therefore at this time move
you but one thing, and seek other time for the remnant at
your more ease.
My doubt, good Uncle, is this. I perceive well by your answers gathered
and considered together, that you will well agree, that a man may both
have worldly wealth, and yet well go to God. And that on the
other side, a man may be miserable and live in tribulation, and yet go
to the devil. And as a man may please God by patience in adversity,
so may he please God by thanksgiving in prosperity.
Now since you grant these things to be such, that either of them
both may be matter of virtue, or else matter of sin, matter of damnation,
or matter of salvation; they seem neither good nor bad of their
own nature, but things of themselves equal and indifferent, turning to
good or the contrary, after as they be taken. And then if this be
thus, I can perceive no cause why you should give the preeminence
unto tribulation, or wherefore you should reckon more cause of comfort
therein than you should reckon to stand in prosperity, but rather a
great deal less, by in a manner half, since that in prosperity the man
is well at ease, and may also by giving thanks to God get good unto his
soul, whereas in tribulation, though he may merit by patience, as

in abundance of worldly wealth the other may by thanks; yet
lacketh he much comfort that the wealthy man hath, in that he is sore
grieved with heaviness and pain: besides this also, that a wealthy man well
at ease may pray to God quietly and merrily, with alacrity and great quietness
of mind, whereas he that lieth groaning in his grief cannot
endure to pray nor think almost upon nothing, but upon his pain.
To begin, Cousin, where you leave; the prayers of him that is in
wealth, and him that is in woe, if the men be both naught, their
prayers be both like. For neither hath the one list to pray, nor the
other neither. And as the one is let with his pain, so is the other
with his pleasure, saving that the pain stirreth him sometimes to
call upon God in his grief, though the man be right bad, where the
pleasure pulleth his mind another way, though the man be meetly
And this point I think there are very few that can (if they
say true) say that they find it otherwise. For in tribulation, which
cometh, you wot well, in many sundry kinds, any man that is not
a dull beast, or a desperate wretch, calleth upon God, not hourly, but
right heartily, and setteth his heart full whole upon his request, so sore
he longeth for ease and help of his heaviness.
But when men are wealthy and well at their ease, while our tongue
pattereth upon our prayers apace; good God, how many mad ways
our mind wandereth the while!
Yet wot I well, that in some tribulation the while such sore
sickness there is, or other grievous bodily pain, that hard it were for a
a man to say a long prayer of matins: and yet some that lie a-dying
say full devoutly the seven psalms, and other prayers, with the priest
at their own aneling but those that for the grief of their pain cannot

endure to do it, or that be more tender, and lack that strong heart
and stomach that some other have, God requireth no such long
prayers of them. But the lifting up of the heart alone, without any
word at all, is more acceptable to him of one in such case, than long
service so said, as folk use to say it in health.
The martyrs in their agony made no long prayers aloud, but one
inch of such a prayer so prayed in that pain, was worth a whole ell
and more, even of their own prayers prayed at some other time.
Great learned men say, that Christ, albeit that he was very God, and as
God, was in eternal equal bliss with his Father, yet as man merited
not for us only, but for himself too; for proof whereof they lay in these
words the authority of Saint Paul: "Cristus humiliavit semet ipsum
factus oboediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis: propter quod et Deus
exaltavit illum, et donavit illi nomen quod est super omne nomen: ut in nomine
Jesu omne genu flectatur, celestium, terrestrium et infernorum, et omnis lingua
confitiatur, quia Dominus Iesus Cristus in gloria est Dei patris" (Christ hath humbled
himself, and became obedient unto the death, and that unto the
death of the cross, for which thing God hath also exalted him, and given
him a name which is above all names: that in the name of Jesus
every knee be bowed, both of the celestial creatures, and the terrestrial,
and of the infernal too: and that every tongue shall confess that our Lord
Jesus Christ is in the glory of God his Father).
Now if it so be, as these great learned men upon such authorities of
holy scripture say, that our Savior merited as man, and as man
deserved reward, not for us only, but for himself also: then were
there in his deeds, as it seemeth, sundry degrees and differences of deserving,
and not his maundy-like merit, as his Passion, nor his sleep-like
merit, as his watch and his prayer, no nor his prayers peradventure
all of like merit neither. But though there none was, nor none
could be in his most blessed person but excellent and incomparable,
passing the prayer of any pure creature: yet his own not all alike,

but some one far above some other. And then if it thus be, of all
his holy prayers, the chief seemeth me those that he made in his great
agony and pain of his bitter Passion.
The first when he thrice fell prostrate in his agony, when the
heaviness of his heart with fear of death at hand, so painful and so cruel
as he well beheld it, made such a fervent commotion in his blessed
body, that the bloody sweat of his holy flesh dropped down on the
The other were the painful prayers that he made upon the
cross, where for all the torment that he hanged in of beating,
nailing, and stretching out all his limbs, with the wresting of his
sinews, and breaking of his tender veins, and the sharp crown of thorn
so pricking him into the head, that his blessed blood streamed down all
his face: in all these hideous pains, in all their cruel despites,
yet two very devout and fervent prayers he made. The one for their
pardon that so dispiteously put him to this pain, and the other
about his own deliverance, commending his own soul unto his holy
Father in heaven. These prayers of his (among all that ever he made)
made in his most pain, reckon I for the chief. And these prayers
of our Savior at his bitter Passion, and of his holy martyrs in the
fervor of their torment, shall serve us to see that there is no prayer
made at pleasure so strong and effectual as in tribulation.
Now come I to the touching of the reason you make, where you tell
me that I grant you that both in wealth and in woe some man may be
naught and offend God, the one by impatience, the other by fleshly
lust; and on the other side, both in tribulation and prosperity too, some
man may also do very well, and deserve thanks of God by thanksgiving
to God, as well of his gift of riches, worship, and wealth, as of need
and penury, imprisonment, sickness, and pain and that therefore you cannot
see for what cause I should give any preeminence in comfort unto
tribulation, but rather allow prosperity for the thing more comfortable:
and that not a little, but in manner by double, since therein hath

the soul comfort, and the body both: the soul by thanksgiving unto
God for his gift; and then the body, by being well at ease, where the
person pained in tribulation, taketh no comfort but in his soul
First, as for your double comfort, Cousin, you may cut off the one.
For a man in prosperity, though he be bound to thank God of his
gift, wherein he feeleth ease, and may be glad also that he giveth
thanks to God; yet for that he taketh his ease here hath he little
cause of comfort, except that the sensual feeling of bodily pleasure
you list for to call by the name of comfort. Nor I say not nay, but
that sometimes men use so to take it, when they say, this good drink
comforteth well my heart. But comfort, Cousin, is properly taken by
them that take it right, rather for the consolation of good hope that
men take it in their heart of some good growing toward them, than for
a present pleasure, with which the body is delighted and tickled for the
while. Now though a man without patience can have no reward
for his pain, yet when his pain is patiently taken for God's sake,
and his will conformed to God's pleasure therein, God rewarded the
sufferer after the rate of his pain, and this thing appeareth by many a
place in scripture of which some have I showed you, and yet shall I
show you more. But never found I any place in scripture that I
remember, in which, though the wealthy man thanked God for his gift,
our Lord promised any reward in heaven, because the man took his ease
and pleasure here. And therefore, since I speak but of such comfort as is
very comfort indeed, by which a man hath hope of God's favor
and remission of his sins, with diminishing of his pains in purgatory,
or reward else in heaven: and such comfort cometh of tribulation, and for
tribulation well taken, but not for pleasure, though it be well taken;
therefore of your comfort that you double by prosperity, you may, as I
told you, cut very well away the half.
Now why I give prerogative in comfort unto tribulation far above

prosperity, though a man may do well in both: of this thing will I
show you causes two or three. For, as I before have at length showed you,
out of all question continual wealth interrupted with no tribulation
is a very discomfortable token of everlasting damnation. Whereupon
it followeth, that tribulation is one cause of comfort unto a
man's heart, in that it dischargeth him of the discomfort that he might
of reason take of overlong lasting wealth.
Another is, that the scripture much commendeth tribulation, as
occasion of more profit, than wealth and prosperity, not to them only
that are therein, but to them too that resort unto them. And therefore,
saith Ecclesiastes: "Melius est ire ad domum luctus, quam ad domum convivii.
In illa enim finis cunctorum admonetur hominum, et vivens cogitat quid
futurum sit." (Better it is to go to the house of weeping and wailing for
some man's death, than to the house of a feast. For in that house of heaviness
is a man put in remembrance of the end of every man, and while he
yet liveth, he thinketh what shall come after.) And yet he further saith:
"Cor sapientum, ubi tristitia est: et cor stultorum ubi letitia" (The heart of wise
men is there as heaviness is, and the heart of fools is there as in mirth and
gladness). And verily, there as you shall hear worldly mirth seem to
be commended in scripture, it is either commonly spoken, as in
the person of some worldly disposed people, or understood of rejoicing
spiritual, or meant of some small moderate refreshing of the
mind, against an heavy discomfortable dullness.
Now whereas prosperity was to the children of Israel promised in
the Old Law as a special gift of God: that was for their imperfection
at that time, to draw them to God with gay things and pleasant, as
men to make children learn give them cakebread and butter. For, as
the scripture maketh mention, that people were much after the
manner of children in lack of wit, and in waywardness. And therefore was
their master Moses called "paedagogus," that is, a teacher of children;
or (as they call such a one in the grammar schools), an usher or a master

of the petites. For, as St. Paul saith: "Nihil ad perfectum duxit lex" (The
Old Law brought nothing to perfection).
And God also threateneth folk with tribulation in this world for
sin, not for that worldly tribulation is evil, but for that we should
be well aware of the sickness of sin, for fear of that thing to
follow: which though it be indeed a very good wholesome thing, if
we will well take it, is yet because it is painful the thing that we
be loath to have.
But this I say yet again and again, that as for the far better
thing in this world toward the getting of the very good that God giveth
in the world to come: the scripture undoubtedly so commendeth tribulation,
that in respect and comparison thereof it discommendeth this
worldly wretched wealth and discomfortable comfort utterly. For to what
other thing soundeth the words of Ecclesiastes that I rehearsed you
now: that it is better to be in the house of heaviness, than to be at a
feast? Whereto soundeth this comparison of his, that the wise man's heart
draweth thither as folk are in sadness; and the heart of a fool is there as
he may find mirth? Whereto draweth this threat of the wise man, that
he that delighted in wealth shall fall into woe? "Risus" (saith he)
"dolore miscebitur, et extrema gaudii luctus occupant" (Laughter shall be mingled
with sorrow, and the end of mirth is taken up with heaviness). And our
Savior saith himself: "Vae vobis qui ridetis, quia lugebitis et flebitis" (Woe
be to you that laugh; for you shall weep and wail). But he saith on the
other side: "Beati qui lugent, quoniam illi consolabuntur" (Blessed be they
that weep and wail, for they shall be comforted). And he saith to
his disciples: "Mundus gaudebit, vos autem dolebitis: sed tristitia vestra
vertetur in gaudium" (The world shall joy, and you shall be sorry: but your
sorrow shall be turned into joy). And so is it, you wot well, now. And the
mirth of many that then were in joy, is now turned all to sorrow. And
thus you see by the scripture plain, that in matter of very comfort,
tribulation is as far above prosperity, as the day is above the night.

Another preeminence of tribulation over wealth in occasion of
merit and reward, shall well appear upon certain considerations well
marked in them both.
Tribulation meriteth in patience, and in the obedient conforming
of the man's will unto God, and in thanksgiving to God for his visitation.
If you reckon me now against these, many other good deeds that
a wealthy man may do; as by riches, give alms; by authority, labor
in doing many men justice, or if you find further any such other
thing like: first, I say, that the patient person in tribulation hath in
all those virtues of a wealthy man an occasion of merit too, the which a
wealthy man hath not againward, in the fore-rehearsed virtues of his.
For it is easy for the person that is in tribulation to be well-willing
to do the selfsame, if he could; and then shall his good will, where the
power lacketh, go very near to the merit of the deed.
But now is not the wealthy man in a like case with the will of
patience, and conformity, and thanks given to God for tribulation: since
it is not so ready for the wealthy man to be content to be in the tribulation
that is the occasion of the patient's desert, as for the troubled
person to be content to be in prosperity to do the good deeds that
the wealthy man doth.
Besides this, all that the wealthy man doth, though he could not do
them without those things that are accounted for wealth, and called
by that name, as not do great alms without great riches, nor do
those many men right by his labor, without authority: yet may he
do these things, being not in wealth indeed, as where he taketh his
wealth for no wealth, nor his riches for no riches, nor in heart setteth by
neither nother, but secretly liveth in a contrite heart and a life penitential,
as many times did the prophet David being a great king,
so that worldly wealth was no wealth unto him. And therefore it is not
of necessity worldly wealth to be cause of those good deeds, since he may

do them, and doth them best indeed, to whom the thing that worldly
folk call wealth, is yet for his godly set mind (drawn from the delight
thereof) no pleasure in manner nor no wealth at all.
Finally, whensoever the wealthy man doth those good virtuous deeds,
if we consider the nature of them right, we shall perceive,
that in the doing of them, he doth ever for the rate and portion of those
deed diminish the matter of his worldly wealth, as in giving great
alms he departeth with so much of his worldly goods, which
are in that part the matter of his wealth. In laboring about the doing
of many good deeds, his labor diminisheth his quiet and his rest. And for
the rate of so much, it diminisheth his wealth, if pain and wealth be
each to other contrary, as I ween ye will agree they be.
Now whosoever then will well consider the thing, he shall, I doubt
not, perceive and see therein that in these good deeds that the wealthy man
doth, though he doth it be that, that his wealth maketh him able,
yet in the doing of them he departeth (for the portion) from the nature
of wealth, toward the nature of some part of tribulation: and therefore,
even in those good deeds themselves that prosperity doth, in goodness
the prerogative of tribulation above wealth appear. Now if it hap,
that some man cannot perceive this point, because the wealthy
man for all his alms, abideth rich still and for all his good labor
abideth still in his authority; let him consider, that I speak but
after the portion. And because the portion of all that he giveth of his
goods is very little in respect of that he leaveth; therefore is the
reason happily with some folk little perceived. But if it so were that he
went forth with giving, till he had given out all and left himself
nothing, then would a very blind man see it. For as he were from
riches come to poverty, so were he from wealth willingly fallen
into tribulation. And between labor and rest the reason goeth alike:

which who can so consider shall see, that for the portion in every
good deed done by the wealthy man, the matter is all one. Then since
we have somewhat weighed the virtues of prosperity, let us consider on
the other side the aforenamed things that are the matter of merit
and reward in tribulation, that is, to wit, patience, conformity, and
Patience the wealthy man hath not, in that he is wealthy. For
if he be pinched in any point wherein he taketh patience, in that
part he suffereth some tribulation, and so not by his prosperity, but
by his tribulation, hath the man that merit.
Like is it if we would say, that the wealthy man hath another
virtue in the stead of patience, that is to wit, to keep himself from
pride and from such other sins as wealth would bring him to. For
the resisting of such motions is, as I before told you, without any
doubt a diminishing of fleshly wealth, and is a very true kind, and one of the
most profitable kinds of tribulation. So that all that good merit
groweth to the wealthy man, not by his wealth, but by the diminishing
of his wealth with wholesome tribulation.
The next color of comparison is in the other twain; that is to wit,
in the conformity of man's will unto God, and in thanksgiving unto
God. For like as the good man in tribulation sent him by God,
conformeth his will to God's will in that behalf, and giveth God thanks
therefor; so doth the wealthy man in his wealth which God giveth him
conform his will to God's in that point: since he is well content to
take it of his gift, and giveth God again also right hearty thanks
And thus, as I said, in these two things may you catch the most
color to compare the wealthy man's merit with the merit of tribulation.
But yet that they be not matches, you may soon see by
this. For in tribulation can there none conform his will unto God's,
and give him thanks therefor but such a man as hath in that point
a very special good mind. But he that is very naught, or hath in

his heart but very little good, may well be content to take wealth at
God's hand, and say, Marry, I thank you, Sir, for this with all mine
heart, and will not fail to love you well, while you let me fare no worse.
"Confitebimur tibi, cum benefeceris ei."
Now if the wealthy man be very good, yet in conformity of his
will and thanks given to God for his wealth, his virtue is not like yet to
his that doth the same in tribulation. For as the philosophers said in
that thing very well of old, virtue standeth in things of hardness
and difficulty. And then, as I told you, much less hardness and less
difficulty there is by a great deal to be content and conform our
will to God's will, and to give him thanks too for our ease, than for our
pain; for our wealth than for our woe. And therefore is the conforming
of our will unto God's, and the thanks that we give him for our tribulation,
more worthy thanks again, and more reward meriteth in
the very fast wealth and felicity of heaven, than our conformity with our
thanks given for and in our worldly wealth here.
And this thing saw the devil, when he said to our Lord of Job,
that it was no marvel though Job had a reverent fear unto God,
God had done so much for him, and kept him in prosperity. But the
devil wist well that it was an hard thing for Job to be so loving, and
so to give thanks to God in tribulation and adversity, and therefore was
he glad to get leave of God to put him in tribulation, and thereby trusted
to cause him murmur and grudge against God with impatience. But
the devil had there a fall in his own turn. For the patience of Job
in the short time of his adversity got him much more favor and
thanks of God, and more is he renowned and commended in scripture for
that than for all the goodness of his long prosperous life.
Our Savior saith himself also, that if we say well by them, or yield
them thanks that do us good, we do no great thing therein, and therefore
can we with reason look for no great thanks again.
And thus have I showed you, lo, no little preeminence that tribulation

hath in merit, and therefore no little preeminence of comfort in
hope of heavenly reward, above the virtues (the merit and cause of
good hope and comfort) that cometh of wealth and prosperity.
A summary comfort of tribulation.
The Twentieth Chapter
And therefore, good Cousin, to finish our talking for this time, lest
I should be too long a let unto your other business, if we lay first for a
sure ground a very fast faith, whereby we believe to be true all that
the scripture saith understanding truly, as the old holy doctors
declare it, and as the Spirit of God instructeth his Catholic Church;
then shall we consider tribulation as a gracious gift of God, a gift
that he gave especially his special friends, the thing that in scripture
is highly commended and praised, a thing whereof the contrary long
continued is perilous, a thing which but if God send it, men have
need by penance to put upon themselves and seek it, a thing that
helpeth to purge our sins past, a thing that preserveth us from
sins that else would come, a thing that causeth us to set less by the
world, a thing that exciteth us to draw more toward God, a thing
that much diminisheth our pains in purgatory, a thing that much
increaseth our final reward in heaven, the thing by which our Savior
entered his own kingdom, the thing with which all his
apostles followed him thither, the thing which our Savior exhorteth
all men to, the thing without which (he saith) we be not his
disciples, the thing without which no man can get to heaven.
Whoso these things thinketh on and remembereth well, shall in his
tribulation neither murmur nor grudge; but first by patience take his

pain in worth, and then shall he grow in goodness and think himself
well worthy. Then shall he consider that God sendeth it for his
weal, and thereby shall he be moved to give God thanks therefor.
Therewith shall his grace increase, and God shall give him such comfort,
by considering that God is in his trouble evermore near unto him,
("Quia Deus iuxta est iis qui tribulato sunt corde" -- God is near, saith the
Prophet, to them that have their heart in trouble): that his joy thereof
shall diminish much of his pain, and he shall not seek for vain
comfort elsewhere, but especially trust in God, and seek for help of him,
submitting his own will wholly to God's pleasure, and pray to God in
his heart, and pray his friends to pray for him, and especially
the priests, as Saint James biddeth, and begin first with confession,
and make us clean to God and ready to depart, and be glad to go to God, putting
purgatory in his pleasure. If we this do, this dare I boldly
say, we shall never live here the less of half an hour, but shall
with this comfort find our hearts lighted, and thereby the grief of our
tribulation lessed, and the more likelihood to recover and to live the longer.
Now if God will we shall hence, then doth he much more for us. For
he that this way taketh, cannot go but well. For of him that is loath to
leave this wretched world, mine heart is much in fear lest he die not well.
Hard it is for him to be welcome that cometh against his will, that
saith unto God when he cometh to fetch him, "Welcome, my Maker,
maugre my teeth." But he that so loveth him that he longeth to go to
him, mine heart cannot give me but he shall be welcome, all were it so,
that he should come ere he were well purged. For charity covereth a
multitude of sins, and he that trusteth in God cannot be confounded.
And Christ saith, he that cometh to me, I will not cast him
out. And therefore let us never make our reckoning of long life; keep it
while we may, because God hath so commanded. But if God give the
occasion that with his goodness we may go, let us be glad thereof, and
long to go to him. And then shall hope of heaven comfort our heaviness,

and out of our transitory tribulation shall we go to everlasting glory,
to which, my good Cousin, I pray God bring us both.
Mine own good Uncle, I pray God reward you, and at this time
will I no longer trouble you. I trow I have this day done you much
tribulation with my importunate objections of very little substance.
And you have even showed me an example of sufferance, in bearing my
folly so long and so patiently. And yet shall I be so bold upon you
further as to seek sometime to talk forth of the remnant, the
most profitable point of tribulation, which you said you reserved to
treat of last of all.
Let that be hardily very shortly, Cousin, while this is fresh in mind.
I trust, good Uncle, so to put this in remembrance, that it shall never
be forgotten with me. Our Lord send you such comfort as he knoweth
to be best.
That is well said, good Cousin, and I pray the same for you and
for all our other friends that have need of comfort, for whom, I
think, more than for yourself, you needed of some counsel.
I shall with this good counsel, that I have heard of you, do them
some comfort, I trust in God; to whose keeping I commit you.
And I you also. Farewell, mine own good Cousin.

The Second Book
It is to me, good Uncle, no little comfort, that as I came in here
I heard of your folk, that you have had since my last being here (God
be thanked!) meetly good rest, and your stomach somewhat more come
to you. For verily, albeit I had heard before, that in respect of the
great grief that for a month's space had held you, you were a
little before my last coming to you somewhat eased and relieved (for
else would I not for no good have put you to the pain to talk so much
as you then did); yet after my departing from you, remembering how
long we tarried together, and that while we were all that while in talking
and all the labor was yours, in talking so long together without interpausing
between, and that of matter studious and displeasant, all of
disease and sickness and other pain and tribulation; I was in good faith
very sorry, and not a little wroth with myself for mine own oversight
that I had so little considered your pain and very feared I was (till I heard
other word) lest you should have waxen weaker, and more sick thereafter.
But now I thank our Lord that hath sent the contrary: for else
a little casting back were in this great age of yours no little danger
and peril.
Nay, nay, good Cousin, to talk much (except some other pain let
me) is to me little grief. A fond old man is often as full of words as
a woman. It is, you wot well, as some poets paint us, all the lust of
an old fool's life to sit well and warm with a cup and a roasted crab,
and drivel, and drink, and talk.
But in earnest, Cousin, our talking was to me great comfort, and

nothing displeasant at all. For though we commenced of sorrow and
heaviness, yet was the thing that we chiefly thought upon, not the
tribulation itself, but the comfort that may grow thereon. And
therefore am I now very glad that you be come to finish up the
Of truth, my good Uncle, it was comfortable to me, and hath
been since to some other of your friends, to whom, as my poor wit and
remembrance would serve me, I did, and not needless, report and rehearse
your most comfortable counsel. And now come I for the
remnant, and am very joyful that I find you so well refreshed, and so
ready thereto. But yet this one thing, good Uncle, I beseech you heartily,
that if I for delight to hear you speak in the matter I forget myself and
you both, and put you to too much pain, remember you your own
ease, and when you lust to leave, command me to go my way and
to seek some other time.
Forsooth, Cousin, many words, if a man were very weak, spoken,
as you said right now, without interpausing, would peradventure at
length somewhat weary him. And therefore wished I the last time after
you were gone, when I felt myself (to say the truth) even a little
weary, that I had not so told you still a long tale alone, but that
we had more often interchanged words, and parted the talk
between us, with oftener enterparling upon your part, in such
manner as learned men use between the persons whom they devise
disputing in their famed dialogues. But yet in that point I soon
excused you, and laid the lack even where I found it, and that was even
upon mine own neck. For I remembered that between you and me it
fared, as it did once between a nun and her brother.

Very virtuous was this lady, and of a very virtuous place, a close
religion, and therein had been long, in all which time she had never
seen her brother, which was in like wise very virtuous too, and had been
far off at an university, and had there taken the degree of doctor in
divinity. When he was come home he went to see his sister, as he
that highly rejoiced in her virtue. So came she to the grate that they
call, I trow, the locutory, and after their holy watchword spoken on
both sides, after the manner used in that place, the one took the
other by the tip of the finger (for hand would there none be
wrung through the grate) and forthwith began my lady to give her
brother a sermon of the wretchedness of this world, and the frailty of
the flesh, and the subtle flights of the wicked fiend, and gave him surely
good counsel, saving somewhat too long how he should be well aware
in his living, and master well his body for saving of his soul; and yet,
ere her own tale came all at an end, she began to find a little fault
with him, and said: "In good faith, brother, I do somewhat marvel
that you, that have been at learning so long, and are a doctor, and so
learned in the law of God do not now at our meeting (while we meet
so seldom), to me that am your sister and a simple unlearned soul, give
of your charity some fruitful exhortation. And as I doubt not but you
can say some good thing yourself." "By my troth, good sister," quoth
her brother, "I cannot for you. For your tongue hath never ceased, but
said enough for us both." And so, Cousin, I remember that when I
was fallen in, I left you little space to say aught between. But now,
will I, therefore, take another way with you; for I shall of our talking
drive you to the one half.
Now forsooth, Uncle, this was a merry tale. But now if you make me
talk the one half, then shall you be contented far otherwise than

there was of late a kinswoman of your own, but which I will not tell
you; guess there and you can. Her husband had much pleasure in the
manner and behavior of another honest man, and kept him therefore
much company; by the reason whereof he was at his mealtime the
more often from home. So happened it on a time, that his wife and he
together dined or supped with that neighbor of theirs, and then she
made a merry quarrel to him for making her husband so good cheer
out of doors, that she could not have him at home. "Forsooth, mistress,"
quoth he (as he was a dry merry man), "in my company nothing keepeth
him but one; serve you him with the same, and he will never be from
you." "What gay thing may that be?" quoth our cousin then. "Forsooth mistress,"
quoth he, "your husband loveth well to talk, and when he sitteth
with me, I let him have all the words." "All the words!" quoth she.
"Marry that am I content, he shall have all the words with
good will, as he hath ever had. For I speak them all myself, and give
them all to him; and for aught that I care for them, so shall he have
them still. But otherwise to say, that he shall have them all, you
shall keep him still, rather than he get the half."
Forsooth, Cousin, I can soon guess which of our kin she was. I would
we had none therein (for all her merry words) that less would let their
husbands for to talk.
Forsooth she is not so merry, but she is as good. But where you find
fault, Uncle, that I speak not enough, I was in good faith ashamed,
that I spoke so much, and moved you such questions, as I found upon

your answer (might better have been spared) they were so little worth.
But now since I see you be so well content, that I shall not forbear boldly
to show my folly, I will be no more shamefast, but ask you what me
Whether a man may not in tribulation use some
worldly recreation for his comfort.
The First Chapter
And first, good Uncle, ere we proceed further, I will be bold to move
you one thing more of that we talked when I was here before. For
when I revolved in my mind again the things that were here concluded
by you, methought you would in nowise, that in any tribulation
men should seek for comfort either in worldly thing or fleshly,
which mind, Uncle, of yours, seemeth somewhat hard. For a merry tale
with a friend refresheth a man much, and without any harm lighteth
his mind, and amendeth his courage and his stomach; so that it seemeth
but well done to take such recreation. And Solomon saith, I trow,
that men should in heaviness give the sorry man wine, to make him forget
his sorrow. And Saint Thomas saith, that proper pleasant talking,
which is called eutrapelia, is a good virtue, serving to refresh the
mind, and make it quick and lusty to labor and study again, where
continual fatigation would make it dull and deadly.
Cousin, I forgot not that point, but I longed not much to
touch it. For neither might I well utterly forbid it, where the case
might hap to fall that it should not hurt; and on the other side if
the case so should fall, methought yet it should little need to give any
man counsel to it. Folk are prone enough to such fantasies of their

own mind. You may see this by ourselves, which coming now
together, to talk of as earnest sad matter as men can devise, were fallen
yet even at the first into wanton idle tales. And of truth, Cousin,
as you know very well, myself am of nature even half a giglot and
more. I would I could as easily mend my fault, as I well know it; but
scant can I refrain it, as old a fool as I am. Howbeit so partial will I
not be to my fault, as to praise it; but for that you require my mind
in the matter, whether men in tribulation may not lawfully seek
recreation, and comfort themselves with some honest mirth: first, agreed
that our chief comfort must be of God, and that with him we must
begin, and with him continue, and with him end also: a man to take
now and then some honest worldly mirth, I dare not be so sore as utterly
to forbid it, since good men and well-learned have in some case allowed
it, especially for the diversity of divers men's minds. For else, if we
were all such, as I would God we were! and such as natural wisdom
would we should be, and is not all clean excusable that we be not in
deed: I would then put no doubt, but that unto any man the most comfortable
talking that could be were to hear of heaven: whereas now,
God help us! our wretchedness is such, that in talking a while thereof,
men wax almost weary, and as though to hear of heaven were an
heavy burden, they must refresh themselves after with a foolish
Our affection toward heavenly joys waxeth wonderful cold. If
dread of hell were as far gone, very few would fear God: but that yet a
little sticketh in our stomachs. Mark me, Cousin, at the sermon, and
commonly toward the end, somewhat the preacher speaketh of hell and
of heaven. Now, while he preacheth of the pains of hell, still they stand
and yet give him the hearing; but as soon as he cometh to the joys of
heaven, they be busking them backward and flockmeal fall away. It is in
the soul somewhat as it is in the body. Some are there of nature, or
of evil custom, come to that point, that a worse thing sometime
more steadeth them than a better. Some man, if he be sick, can away

with no wholesome meat, nor no medicine can go down with
them, but if it be tempered with some such thing for his fancy, as
maketh the meat or the medicine less wholesome than it should be. And
yet while it will be no better, we must let him have it so.
Cassian, that very good virtuous man, rehearseth in a certain collection
of his, that a certain holy father, in making of a sermon, spoke
of heaven and of heavenly things so celestially, that much of his audience
with the sweet sound thereof began to forget all the world, and fall asleep.
Which, when the father beheld, he dissembled their sleeping, and
suddenly said unto them, I shall tell you a merry tale. At which word,
they lift up their heads and harkened unto that. And after the sleep
therewith broken, heard him tell on of heaven again. In what wise
that good father rebuked then their untoward minds, so dull unto the
thing that all our life we labor for, and so quick and lusty toward
other trifles, I neither bear in mind, nor shall here need to rehearse.
But thus much of the matter sufficeth for our purpose, that whereas
you demand me whether in tribulation men may not sometimes
refresh themselves with worldly mirth and recreation; I can no
more say, but he that cannot long endure to hold up his head and
hear talking of heaven, except he be now and then between (as though
heaven were heaviness) refreshed with a foolish merry tale, there is none
other remedy, but you must let him have it. Better would I wish it, but
I cannot help it.
Howbeit, let us by mine advice at the leastwise make these kinds
of recreation as short and as seldom as we can. Let them serve us but for
sauce, and make them not our meat: and let us pray unto God, and all
our good friends for us, that we may feel such a savor in the delight of
heaven, that in respect of the talking of the joys thereof, all worldly
recreation be but a grief to think on. And be sure, Cousin, that if we
might once purchase the grace to come to that point we never of

worldly recreation so much comfort in a year, as we should find in
the bethinking us of heaven in less than half an hour.
In faith, Uncle, I can well agree to this: and I pray God bring
us once to take such a savor in it. And surely, as you began the
other day, by faith must we come to it, and to faith, by prayer.
But now I pray you, good Uncle, vouchsafe to proceed in our principal
Of the short uncertain life in extreme age
or sickness.
The Second Chapter
Cousin, I have bethought me somewhat of this matter since we were
last together. And I find it, if we should go some way to work, a thing
that would require many more days to treat of than we shall haply
find meet thereto, in so few as myself ween that I have now to live,
while every time is not like with me, and among many painful, in
which I look every day to depart, my mending days come very
seldom and are very shortly gone. For surely, Cousin, I cannot liken myself
more meetly now than to the snuff of a candle that burneth
within the candlestick's nose. For as that snuff burneth down so low,
that who that looketh on it would ween it were quite out, and yet
suddenly lifteth a flame half an inch above the nose and giveth
a pretty short light again, and thus playeth divers times, till at last
ere it be looked for out it goeth altogether: so have I, Cousin, divers
such days together, as every day of them I look even for to die: and

yet have I then after that time such few days again, as you see me
now have yourself, in which a man would ween that I might yet well
continue. But I know my lingering not likely to last long, but out will
my soul suddenly someday within a while, and therefore will I with
God's help, seem I never so well amended, nevertheless reckon every
day for my last. For though that to the repressing of the bold
courage of blind youth, there is a very true proverb, that as soon
cometh a young sheep's skin to the market as an old; yet this difference
there is at least between them, that as the young man may hap sometime
to die soon, so the old man can never live long. And therefore,
Cousin, in our matter here, leaving out many things that I would else
treat of, I shall for this time speak but of very few. Howbeit hereafter
if God send me more such days, then will we, when you list, farther talk
of more.
He divideth tribulation into three kinds, of which three
the last he shortly passeth over.
The Third Chapter
All manner of tribulation, Cousin, that any man can have, as far as for
this time cometh to my mind, falleth under some one at the least of
these three kinds, either is it such as himself willingly taketh, or
secondly such as himself willingly suffereth, or finally such as he cannot
put from him.
This third kind I purpose not much more to speak of now. For
thereof shall, as for this time, suffice these things, that we have
treated between us this other day. What kind of tribulation this is, I
am sure yourself perceive. For sickness, imprisonment, loss of goods,
loss of friends, or such bodily harm as a man hath already caught,

and can in nowise avoid, these things and such like are the third kind
of tribulation that I speak of, which a man neither willingly taketh
in the beginning, nor can, though he would, put willingly away.
Now think I, that as to the man that lacketh wit and faith, no
comfort can serve, whatsoever counsel be given: so to them that
have both, I have as for this kind said in manner enough already.
And considering, that suffer it needs he must, while he can by no
manner of means put it from him, the very necessity is half counsel
enough, to take it in good worth and bear it patiently, and rather of his
patience to take both ease and thanks, than by fretting and by fuming
to increase his present pain, and by murmur and grudge to fall into
further danger after by displeasing of God with his froward behavior.
And yet, albeit that I think that that which is said sufficeth, yet
here and there shall I, in the second kind, show some such comforts
as shall well serve unto this last kind too.
The Fourth Chapter
The first kind also will I shortly pass. For the tribulation that a
man taketh himself willingly, which no man putteth upon him
against his own will, is (you wot well) as I somewhat touched the last
day, such affliction of the flesh, or expense of his goods, as a
man taketh himself, or willingly bestoweth in punishment of his
own sin and for devotion to God.
Now in this tribulation needeth the man none to comfort him. For
while no man troubleth him but himself, which feeleth how far forth
he may conveniently bear, and of reason and good discretion shall
not pass that, wherein if any doubt arise, counsel needeth, and not comfort;
the courage that for God's sake and his soul's health kindleth his heart
and enflameth it thereto, shall by the same grace that put it in his mind,

give him such comfort and joy therein that the pleasure of his
soul shall pass the pain of his body: yea, and while he hath in heart
also some great heaviness for his sin, yet when he considereth the
joy that shall come of it, his soul shall not fail to feel then that
strange case, which my body felt once in a great fever.
What strange case was that, Uncle?
Forsooth, Cousin, even in this same bed (it is now more than fifteen
years ago) I lay in a tertian, and had passed, I trow, three or four fits: but
after fell there on me one fit out of course, so strange and so marvelous,
that I would in good faith have thought it impossible; for
I suddenly felt myself verily both hot and cold throughout all my
body, not in some part the one, and in some part the other, for that
had been, you wot well, no very strange thing to feel the head hot
while the hands were cold; but the selfsame parts, I say, so God
save my soul! I sensibly felt, and right painfully too, all in one instant
both hot and cold at once.
By my faith, Uncle, this was a wonderful thing, and such as I never
heard happen any man else in my days; and few men are there, of whose
mouths I could have believed it.
Courtesy, Cousin, peradventure, letteth you to say, that you believe
it not yet of my mouth neither; and surely for fear of that, you should
not have heard it of me neither, had there not happed me another
thing soon after.

I pray you, what was that, Uncle?
Forsooth, Cousin, this I asked a physician or twain, that then looked
unto me, how this should be possible; and they twain told me both
that it could not be so, but that I was fallen into some slumber, and
dreamed that I felt it so.
This hap, hold I, little causeth you to tell the tale the more boldly.
No, Cousin, that is true, lo. But then happed there another, that a
young girl here in this town, whom a kinsman of hers had begun
to teach physic, told me, that there was such a kind of fever indeed.
By our Lady! Uncle, save for the credence of you, that tale would I not
tell again upon that hap of a maid. For though I know her now
for such as I durst well believe her, it might hap her very well at
that time to lie, because she would ye should take her for cunning.
Yea, but yet happed there another hap thereon, Cousin, that a work
of Galen, De Differentiis Febrium, is ready to be sold in the booksellers'
shops. In which work she showed me then the chapter where Galen
saith the same.

Marry, Uncle, as you say, that hap happed well; and that maid
had (as hap was) in that one point more cunning than had both
your physicians beside, and hath, I ween, at this day in many points
In faith so ween I too: and that is well weared on her; for she is very
wise and well-learned, and very virtuous too. But see now, what age is, lo, I
have been so long in my tale, that I have almost forgotten for
what purpose I told it. Oh! now I remember, lo. Likewise I say, as myself
felt my body then both hot and cold at once; so he, that is contrite
and heavy for his sin, shall have cause to be, and shall be indeed,
both sad and glad, and both twain at once, and shall do, as I remember
holy Saint Jerome biddeth: "Et doleas, et de dolore gaudeas" (Both
be thou sorry), saith he, (and be thou also of thy sorrow joyful). And
thus, as I began to say, of comfort to be given unto him that is in this
tribulation, that is to wit, in fruitful heaviness and penance for his
sin, shall we none need to give other than only to remember and
consider well the goodness of God's excellent mercy, that infinitely
passeth the malice of all men's sin, by which he is ready to receive
every man, and did spread his arms abroad upon the cross, lovingly
to embrace all them that will come, and even there accepted the
thief at his last end that turned not to God till he might steal no longer,
and yet maketh more feast in heaven at one that from sin turneth, than
of fourscore and nineteen good men that sinned not at all. And
therefore of that first kind will I make no longer tale.

An objection concerning them that turn not
to God, till they come at the last cast.
The Fifth Chapter
Forsooth, Uncle, this is unto that kind comfort very great, and so great
also, that it may make many a man bold to abide in his sin, even
unto his end, trusting to be then saved, as that thief was.
Very sooth you say, Cousin, that some wretches are there such, that
in such wise abuse the great goodness of God, that the better that he is,
the worse again be they. But, Cousin, though there be more joy made
of his turning that from the point of perdition cometh to salvation,
for pity that God had and his saints all, of the peril of perishing
that the man stood in: yet is he not set in like state in heaven as he
should have been, if he had lived better before, except it so fall that he
live so well after, and do so much good, that he therein outrun in the
shorter time those good folk that yet did not so much in much longer.
As it proved in the blessed apostle Saint Paul, which of a persecutor
became an apostle, and last of all came in into that office, and yet
in the labor of sowing the seed of Christ's faith, outran all the
remnant so far forth, that he letted not to say of himself,
"plus omnibus laboravi" (I have labored more than all the remnant
But yet, my Cousin, though God (I doubt not) be so merciful unto them,
that in any time in their life turn and ask his mercy and trust therein,
though it be at the last end of a man's life, and hireth him as well
for heaven, that cometh to work in his vineyard toward night,

at such time as workmen leave work and go home (being then in will
to work if the time would serve), as he hireth him that cometh in the
morning: yet may there no man upon the trust of this parable be
bold all his life to lie still in sin. For let him remember, that into
God's vineyard there goeth no man, but he that is called thither. Now,
he that in hope to be called toward night, will sleep out the morning,
and drink out the day, is full likely to pass at night unspoken to, and
then shall he with shrewd rest go supperless to bed.
They tell of one that was wont always to say, that all the while he
lived he would do what he list, for three words, when he died, should
make all safe enough. But then so happed it, that long ere he were old,
his horse once stumbled upon a broken bridge, and as he labored to
recover him, when he saw it would not be, but down into the flood
headlong needs he should: in a sudden flight he cried out in the falling,
"Have all to the devil!" And there was he drowned with his three words
ere he died, whereon his hope hung all his wretched life. And, therefore,
let no man sin in hope of grace: for grace cometh but at God's
will, and that mind may be the let, that grace of fruitful repenting
shall never after be offered him, but that he shall either graceless
go linger on careless, or with a care fruitless, fall into despair.
An objection of them that say the tribulation of
penance needeth not, but is a superstitious folly.
The Sixth Chapter
Forsooth, Uncle, in this point methinketh you say very well. But then
are there some again that say on the other side, that heaviness

for our sins we shall need none at all, but only change our intent
and purpose to do better, and for all that that is passed, take no thought
at all.
And as for fasting or other affliction of the body, they say we should
not do it but only to tame the flesh, when we feel it wax wanton and
begin to rebel. For fasting, they say, serveth to keep the body in
temperance. But for to fast for penance, or to do any other good
work, almsdeed or other, toward satisfaction of our own
sin; this thing they call plain injury to the Passion of Christ, by
which only are our sins forgiven freely without any recompense
of our own. And they that would do penance for their own sins,
look to be their own Christs, and pay their own ransoms, and save their
souls themselves. And with these reasons in Saxony, many cast fasting
off, and all other bodily affliction save only where need requireth to
bring the body to temperance. For other good, they say, can it none
do to ourselves; and then to our neighbor can it do none at all and
therefore they condemn it for superstitious folly.
Now, heaviness of heart and weeping for our sins, this they reckon shame
almost and womanish peevishness. Howbeit (thanked be God!) their women
wax there now so mannish, that they be not so peevish nor so
poor of spirit, but that they can sin on as men do, and be neither
afraid, nor ashamed, nor weep for their sins at all.
And surely, mine Uncle, I have marveled the less ever since that I heard
the manner of their preachers there. For, as you remember, when I
was in Saxony, these matters were in manner but in a mammering, nor
Luther was not then wedded yet, nor religious men out of their
habit, but suffered (where those were that would be of the sect) freely to preach
what they would unto the people. And forsooth, I heard a religious man
there myself, one that had been reputed and taken for very good,
and which, as far as the folk perceived, was of his own living

somewhat austere and sharp, but his preaching was wonderful. Methink
I hear him yet, his voice was so loud and shrill, his learning
less than mean. But whereas his matter was much part again
fasting and all affliction for any penance, which he called men's inventions,
he cried ever out upon them, to keep well the laws of
Christ. Let go their peevish penance, and purpose them to amend,
and seek nothing to salvation but the death of Christ. "For he is our
justice, and he is our Savior, and our whole satisfaction for all our deadly
sins. He did full penance for us all upon his painful cross, he
washed us there all clean with the water of his sweet side, and brought
us out of the devil's danger with his dear precious blood. Leave,
therefore, leave, I beseech you, these inventions of men, your foolish
Lenten fasts, and your peevish penance, diminish never Christ's thanks,
nor look to save yourself. It is Christ's death, I tell you, that must save
us all: Christ's death, I tell you, yet again, and not our own deeds. Leave
your own fasting, therefore, and lean to Christ alone, good Christian people, for
Christ's dear bitter Passion."
Now so loud and so shrill he cried Christ in their ears, and so
thick he came forth with Christ's bitter Passion, and that so bitterly
spoken, with the sweat dropping down his cheeks, that I marveled
not though I saw the poor women weep. For he made mine hair
stand up upon my head; and with such preaching were the people
so brought in, that some fell to break their fasts on the fasting days,
not of frailty or of malice first, but almost of devotion, lest they should
take from Christ the thanks of his bitter Passion. But when they were a
while nuzzled in that point first, they could endure and abide after
many things more, with which had he begun, they would have pulled
him down.

Cousin, God amend that man, whatsoever he be, and God keep
all good folk from such manner of preachers! Such one preacher much
more abuseth the name of Christ and of his bitter Passion, than five
hundred hazarders that in their idle business swear and forswear
themselves by his holy bitter Passion at dice.
They carry the minds of the people from the perceiving of their craft,
by the continual naming of the name of Christ: and crying his Passion
so shrill into their, ears,
they forget that the Church hath ever taught them, that all our
penance without Christ's Passion were not worth a pease. And they
make the people ween, that we would be saved by our own deeds without
Christ's death: where we confess, that his only Passion meriteth
incomparably more for us, than all our own deeds do: but his pleasure
is, that we shall also take pain our own self with him, and therefore
he biddeth all that will be his disciples, take their crosses on their back
as he did, and with their crosses follow him.
And where they say, that fasting serveth but for temperance,
to tame the flesh and keep it from wantonness, I would in good
faith have weened that Moses had not been so wild, that for taming
of his flesh he should have needed to fast whole forty days together. No
nor holy neither, nor yet our Savior himself which began, and the
apostles followed, and all Christendom have kept the Lenten forty days
fast, that these folk call now so foolish. King Ahab was not disposed to
be wanton in his flesh, when he fasted and went clothed in sackcloth and
all besprent with ashes.
Nor no more was in Nineveh the king and all the city, but they
wailed, and did painful penance for their sin, to procure God to
pity them and withdraw his indignation. Anna that in her widowhood
abode so many years with fasting and praying in the Temple till the

birth of Christ, was not, I ween, in her old age so sore disposed to the
wantonness of her flesh, that she fasted all therefor. Nor Saint Paul
that fasted so much, fasted not all therefor neither. The scripture is
full of places that prove the fasting not to be the invention of man,
but the institution of God, and that it hath many more profits than one.
And that the fasting of one man may do good to another, our
Savior showeth himself, where he saith, that some kind of devils
cannot be by one man cast out of another, "Nisi in oratione et ieiunio"
(without prayer and fasting). And therefore I marvel that they take
this way against fasting and other bodily penance,
and yet much more I marvel, that they mislike the sorrow and
heaviness and displeasure of mind that a man should take in forthinking
of his sin. The Prophet saith: "Scindite corda vestra, et non vestimenta"
(Tear your hearts), he saith, (and not your clothes). And the prophet David
saith: "Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies" (A contrite heart and
an humbled), that is to say, an heart broken, torn, and with tribulation
of heaviness for his sins laid alow under foot, (shall thou not, good Lord,
despise). He saith also of his own contrition: "Laboravi in gemitu meo,
lavabo per singulas noctes lectum meum, lachrimis meis stratum meum rigabo"
(I have labored in my wailing, I shall every night wash my bed with
my tears, my couch will I water).
But what should I need in this matter to lay forth one place or
twain? The scripture is full of those places, by which it plainly appeareth,
that God looketh of duty, not only that we should amend and be
better in the time to come, but also be sorry, and weep, and bewail our
sins committed before, and all the holy doctors be full and
whole of that mind, that men must have (for their sins) contrition
and sorrow in heart.

What if a man cannot weep, nor in his heart be
sorry for his sins.
The Seventh Chapter
Forsooth, Uncle, yet seemeth me this thing somewhat a sore sentence,
not for that I think otherwise, but that there is good cause and
great, wherefore a man so should: but for that of truth some man cannot
be sorry and heavy for his sin that he hath done, though he never
so fain would. But though he can be content for God's sake, to forbear
it from thenceforth, yet for every sin that is passed can he not only
not weep, but some were haply so wanton, that when he happeth
to remember them, he can scantly forbear to laugh. Now, if contrition
and sorrow of heart be requisite of necessity to remission; many
a man should stand, as it seemeth, in a very perilous case.
Many so should indeed, Cousin, and indeed many so do. And the old
saints write very sore in this point. Howbeit, "Misericordia Domini
super omnia opera eius" (The mercy of God is above all his works), and he
standeth not bound unto common rule. "Et ipse cognovit figmentum
suum, et propiciatur infirmitatibus nostris" (And he knoweth the frailty of
his earthen vessel that is of his own making, and is merciful, and hath
pity upon our feeble infirmities), and shall not exact of us above the
thing that we may do.
But yet, Cousin, he that findeth himself in that case, in that he is
minded to do well hereafter, let him give God thanks that he is no
worse: but in that he cannot be sorry for his sin past, let him be
sorry hardly that he is no better. And as Saint Jerome biddeth him

that for his sin sorroweth in his heart, be glad and rejoice in his sorrow:
so would I counsel him that cannot be sad for his sin, to be
sorry yet at the least that he cannot be sorry.
Besides this, though I would in nowise any man should despair,
yet would I counsel such a man, while that affection lasteth, not to be
too bold of courage, but live in double fear.
First, for it is a token either of faint faith, or of a dull diligence.
For surely if we well believe in God, and therewith deeply consider his majesty
with the peril of our sin, and the great goodness of God also:
either should dread make us tremble and break our stony heart, or love
should for sorrow relent it into tears.
Besides this since I can scant believe, but since so little misliking of
our old sin is an affection not very pure and clean, and none unclean
thing shall enter into heaven; cleansed shall it be and purified, before that
we come thither. And, therefore, would I further advise one in that case,
the counsel which M. Gerson giveth every man, that since the
body and the soul together make the whole man, the less affliction that
he feeleth in his soul, the more pain in recompense let him put upon
his body, and purge the spirit by the affliction of the flesh.
And he that so doth, I dare lay my life, shall have his hard heart after
relent into tears, and his soul in an wholesome heaviness and heavenly gladness
too, especially if, which must be joined with every good thing, he
join faithful prayer therewith.
But, Cousin, as I told you the other day before, in these matters with
these new men will I not dispute. But surely for mine own part I cannot
well hold with them. For, as far as mine own poor wit can perceive,
the holy scripture of God is very plain against them, and the whole
corps of Christendom in every Christian region, and the very places in
which they dwell themselves, have ever unto their own days clearly
believed against them, and all the old holy doctors have evermore
taught against them, and all the old holy interpreters have construed
the scripture against them. And, therefore, if these men have now
perceived so late, that the scripture hath been misunderstood all this

while, and that of all those old holy doctors no man could understand
it; then am I too old at this age to begin to study it now. And
trust these men's cunning, Cousin, that dare I not, in nowise, since I
cannot see nor perceive no cause, wherefore I should, think, that these
men might not now in the understanding of scripture as well
be deceived themselves, as they bear us in hand, that all those other
have been all this while before.
Howbeit, Cousin, if it so be, that their way be not wrong, but that
they have found out so easy a way to heaven, as to take no thought,
but make merry, nor take no penance at all, but sit them down and
drink well for our Savior's sake, sit cock-a-hoop and fill in all the
cups at once, and then let Christ's Passion pay for all the scot, I am
not he that will envy their good hap, but surely counsel dare I
give no man, to adventure that way with them. But such as fear,
lest that way be not sure, and take upon them willingly tribulation of
penance, what comfort they do take and well may take therein, that
have I somewhat told you already. And since these other folk sit so
merry without such tribulation; we need to talk to them, you
wot well, of no such manner comfort. And therefore of this kind of tribulation
will I make an end.
Of that kind of tribulation which, though they not
willingly take, yet they willingly suffer.
The Eighth Chapter
Verily, good Uncle, so may you well do: for you have brought it
unto very good pass. And now I require you to come to the other
kind, of which you purposed always to treat last.

That shall I, Cousin, very gladly do. The other kind is this, which
I rehearsed second, and sorting out the other twain, have kept it for
the last. This kind of tribulation is, you wot well, of them that willingly
suffer tribulation, though that of their own choice they took it not
at the first. This kind, Cousin, divide we shall into twain. The first
might we call temptation: the second, persecution. But here must you
consider that I mean not every kind of persecution, but that kind
only which, though the sufferer would be loath to fall in, yet will he
rather abide it and suffer, than by the fleeting from it fall in the displeasure
of God, or leave God's pleasure unprocured. Howbeit, if we
well consider these two things, temptation and persecution, we may
find that either of them is incident to the other. For both by temptation
the devil persecuteth us, and by persecution the devil also
tempteth us; and as persecution is tribulation to every man, so is
temptation tribulation to every good man. Now, though the devil,
our spiritual enemy, fight against man in both, yet this difference
hath the common temptation from the persecution, that temptation
is, as it were, the fiend's train and persecution his plain open
fight. And therefore, will I now call all this kind of tribulation here by the
name of temptation, and that shall I divide into two parts. The first
shall I call the devil's trains; the other, his open fight.
First, of temptation in general as it is common to
The Ninth Chapter
To speak of every kind of temptation particularly by itself, this
were, ye wot well, in manner an infinite thing. For under that, as I told

you, fall persecutions and all. And the devil hath of his trains a thousand
subtle ways, and of his open fight as many sundry poisoned darts.
He tempteth us by the world, he tempteth us by our own flesh, he
tempteth us by pleasure, he tempteth us by pain, he tempteth us by
our foes, he tempteth us by our own friends, and, under color of kindred,
he maketh many times our next friends our most foes. For as
our Savior saith, "Inimici hominis, domestici eius"
But in all manner of so divers temptations, one marvelous comfort
is this, that with the more we be tempted, the gladder have we
cause to be. For St. James saith, "Omne gaudium existimate, fratres, cum
in tentationes varias incideritis" (Esteem it and take it), saith he, (my brethren,
for a thing of all joy, when you fall into divers and sundry manner of temptations).
And no marvel; for there is in this world set up as it were a
game of wrestling, wherein the people of God come in on the one
side, and on the other side come mighty strong wrestlers and wily, that
is, to wit, the devils, the cursed proud damned spirits. For it is not
our flesh alone that we must wrestle with, but with the devil too.
"Non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem sed adversus principes
et potestates, tenebrarum harum, adversus spiritualia nequitiae in celestibus" (Our
wrestling is not here), saith St. Paul, (against flesh and blood, but
against the princes and potentates of these dark regions, against the
spiritual wicked ghosts of the air).
But as God (unto them that on his part give his adversary the fall)
hath prepared a crown: so he that will not wrestle, shall none have.
For, as Saint Paul saith: "Nemo coronabitur, nisi qui legitime certaverit"
(There shall no man have the crown, but he that doth his devoir
therefor, according to the law of the game). And then, as holy Saint Bernard
saith: How couldst thou fight or wrestle therefor, if there were
no challenger against thee that would provoke thee thereto? And, therefore,
may it be a great comfort, as St. James saith, to every man that
seeth himself challenged and provoked by temptation; for thereby

perceiveth he, that it cometh to his course to wrestle, which shall be
(but if he willingly will play the coward or the fool) the matter of
his eternal reward.
A special comfort in all temptation.
The Tenth Chapter
But now must this needs be to man an inestimable comfort in all
temptation, if his faith fail him not, that is, to wit, that he may
be sure that God is always ready to give him strength against the
devil's might and wisdom against the devil's trains. For as the
Prophet saith: "Fortitudo mea et laus mea est Dominus, factus est mihi
in salutem" (My strength and my praise is our Lord; he hath been my
safeguard). And the scripture saith: "Pete a Deo sapientiam et dabit
tibi" (Ask wisdom of God, and he shall give it thee). "Ut possitis" (as Saint
Paul saith) "deprehendere omnes artes" (That you may spy and perceive all
the crafts).
A great comfort may this be in all kinds of temptation, that God
hath so his hand upon him that is willing to stand, and will trust in
him and call upon him, that he hath made him sure by many faithful
promises in holy scripture, that either he shall not fall, or if he
sometime through faintness of faith stagger or hap to fall, yet if he call
upon God betimes, his fall shall be no sore bruising to him, but as the
scripture saith: "Iustus si ceciderit, non collidetur quia Dominus supponit manum
suam" (The just man, though he fall, shall not be bruised for our Lord
holdeth under his hand).
The Prophet expresseth a plain comfortable promise of God against
all temptation, where he saith: "Qui habitat in adiutorio Altissimi,
in protectione Dei caeli comorabitur" (Whoso dwelleth in the help of the

highest God, he shall abide in the protection or defense of the God of
heaven). Who dwelleth now, good Cousin, in the help of the high God?
Surely he that through a good faith abideth in the trust and
confidence of God's help, and neither for lack of that faith and trust
in his help falleth desperate of all help, nor departeth from the
hope of his help to seek himself help (as I told you the other
day) of the flesh, the world, or the devil.
Now, he then that by fast faith and sure hope dwelleth in God's help,
and hangeth always thereupon, never falling from that hope; he shall,
saith the Prophet, ever dwell and abide in God's defense and protection;
that is to say, that while he faileth not to believe well and hope
well, God will never fail in all temptation to defend him. For unto
such a faithful, well hoping man the Prophet in the same psalm
saith farther: "Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi, et sub pennis eius sperabis"
(With his shoulders shall he shadow thee, and under his feathers shalt thou
trust). Lo, here hath every faithful man a sure promise, that in the
fervent heat of temptation or tribulation, for (as I have said divers
times before) they be in such wise coincident, that every tribulation the
devil useth for temptation to bring us to impatience, and thereby to
murmur and grudge and blaspheme; and every kind of temptation
to a good man that fighteth against it, and will not follow it, is a very
painful tribulation. In the fervent heat, I say therefore, of every
temptation, God giveth the faithful man (that hopeth in him) the
shadow of his holy shoulders, which are broad and large, sufficient to
refrigerate and refresh the man in that heat, and in every tribulation he
putteth his shoulders for a defense between. And then what weapon of
the devil may give us any deadly wound while that impenetrable
pavise of the shoulder of God standeth always between?
Then goeth the verse farther, and saith unto such a faithful man,
"et sub pennis eius sperabis" (thine hope shall be under his feathers); that
is, to wit, for the good hope thou hast in his help, he will take thee so
near him into his protection, that as the hen, to keep her young chickens
from the kite, nestleth them together under her own wings:

so from the devil's claws, the ravenous kite of this dark air, will the
God of heaven gather the faithful trusting folk near unto his own
sides, and set them in surety very well and warm under the covering of
his own heavenly wings.
And of this defense and protection our Savior spoke himself unto
the Jews (as mention is made in the ------------- chapter of Saint
Matthew), to whom he said in this wise: "Hierusalem, Hierusalem, quae
occidis prophetas, et lapidas eos qui ad te misi sunt, quoties volui congregare
te quemadmodum gallina congregat pullos suos sub alas suas et noluisti?"
That is to say, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest
unto death them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have
gathered thy sons together, as the hen gathereth her chickens under
her wings, and thou wouldst not?"
Here are, Cousin Vincent, words of no little comfort unto every
Christian man: by which we may see, with how tender affection God
of his great goodness longeth to gather under the protection of his
wings, and how often like a loving hen he clucketh home unto him
even those chickens of his that willfully walketh abroad in the
kite's danger, and will not come at his clucking, but ever the more
he clucketh for them, the further they go from him. And, therefore, can
we not doubt, if we will follow him, and with faithful hope come run to
him, but that he shall in all matter of temptation take us near unto
him and set us even under his wings, and then are we safe, if we will
tarry there. For against our will can there no power pull us thence,
nor hurt our souls there. "Pone me," saith the Prophet, "iuxta te, et
cuiusvis manus pugnet contra me" (Set me near unto thee, and fight against
me whose hand that will).

And to show the great safeguard and surety that we shall have,
while we sit under his heavenly feathers, the Prophet saith yet a great
deal further: "sub umbra alarum tuarum exsultabo" that is, to wit, that we
shall not only (when we sit by his sweet side under his holy wing)
sit in safeguard; but that we shall also under the covering of his
heavenly wings, with great exultation rejoice.
Of four kinds of temptations, and therein both the parts
of that kind of tribulation that men willingly suffer,
touched in the two verses of the psalter.
The Eleventh Chapter
Now in the two next verses following, the Prophet briefly comprehendeth
four kinds of temptation, and therein all the tribulation that we
shall now speak of, and also some part of that which we have spoken
of before. And therefore I shall peradventure, except any further thing
fall in our way, with the treating of those two verses, finish and end all our
The Prophet saith in the psalm: "Scuto circumdabit te veritas eius,
non timebis a timore nocturno a sagitta volante in die, a negocio perambulante
in tenebris, ab incursu et demonio meridiano" (The truth of God shall compass
thee about with a pavise, thou shalt not be afeard of the night's
fear, nor of the arrow, flying in the day, nor of the business walking
about in darknesses, nor of the incursion or invasion of
the devil in the midday).
First, Cousin, in these words -- "The truth of God shall compass thee
about with a pavise" -- the Prophet for the comfort of every good man

in all temptation and in all tribulation, beside those other things
that he said before, that the shoulders of God should shadow them, and
that also they should sit under his wing, here saith he farther that the
truth of God shall compass thee with a pavise, that is, to wit, that as
God hath faithfully promised to protect and defend those that faithfully
will dwell in the trust of his help; so will he truly perform it.
And thee that such one art, will the truth of his promise defend, not
with a little round buckler that scant can cover the head, but with a
long large pavise that covereth all along the body, made, as holy
Saint Bernard saith, broad above with the Godhead, and narrow beneath
with the manhead, so that this pavise is our Savior Christ himself.
And yet is not this pavise like other pavises of this world, which
are not made but in such wise as, while it defendeth one part, the
man may be wounded upon the other: but this pavise is such, that
(as the Prophet saith) it shall round about enclose and compass thee,
so that thine enemy shall hurt thy soul on no side. For,
"scuto," saith he, "circumdabit te veritas eius" (with a pavise shall his truth
environ and compass thee round about). And then continently
following, to the intent that we should see that it is not without necessity
that the pavise of God should compass us about upon every side,
he showeth in what wise we be by the devil with trains and assaults,
by four kinds of temptations and tribulations, environed upon
every side. Against all which compass of temptations and tribulations,
that round compassing pavise of God's truth, shall in such wise
defend us and keep us safe, that we shall need to dread none of them

The first kind of the four temptations.
The Twelfth Chapter
First he saith: "Non timebis timore nocturno" (Thou shalt not be afeard
of the fear of the night). By the night is there in scripture sometimes
understood tribulation, as appeareth in the thirty-fourth chapter of Job: "Novit
enim Deus opera eorum, idcirco inducet noctem" (God hath known the work
of them, and therefore shall he bring night upon them), that is, to wit,
tribulation for their wickedness.
And well you wot, that the night is of the nature itself discomfortable
and full of fear. And therefore by the night's fear, here I understand
the tribulations by which the devil, through the sufferance of
God, either by himself, or other that are his instruments, tempteth
good folk to impatience, as he did Job. But he that, as the Prophet
saith, dwelleth and continueth faithfully in the hope of God's help,
shall so be clipped in on every side with the shield or pavise of God,
that he shall have no need to be afeard of such tribulation that is here
called the night's fear. And it may be also conveniently called the
night's fear for two causes. The one, for that many times the cause of
his tribulation is unto him that suffereth dark and unknown; and
therein varieth it and differeth from that tribulation, by which the devil
tempteth a man with open fight and assault for a good known thing,
from which he would withdraw him, or for some known evil thing,
into which he would drive him by force of such persecution. Another
cause, for, which it is called the night's fear, may be for that that the
night is so far out of courage, and naturally so casteth folk in fear, that
of everything whereof they perceive any manner dread, their fantasy
doubleth their fear, and maketh them often ween that it were much

worse than indeed it is. The Prophet saith in the psalter: "Posuisti
tenebras et facta est nox, in illa pertransibunt omnes bestie silvarum, catuli
leonum rugientes, querentes a Deo escam sibi" (Thou hast, good Lord, set
the darkness, and made was the night, and in the night walk all the
beasts of the wood. The whelps of the lions roaring and calling unto
God for their meat).
Now, though that the lions' whelps walk about roaring in the night
and seek for their prey, yet can they not get such meat as they would
always but must hold themselves content with such as God suffereth
to fall in their way. And though they be not aware thereof, yet of God
they ask it, and of him they have it.
And this may be comfort to all good men in their night's fear, in
their dark tribulation, that though they fall into the claws or the
teeth of those lions' whelps, yet shall all that they can do not pass beyond
the body, which is but as the garment of the soul. For the soul itself,
which is the substance of the man, is so surely fenced in round
about with the shield or pavise of God, that as long as he will
abide faithfully in adiutorio Altissimi (in the hope of God's help), the
lions' whelps shall not be able to hurt it. For the great lion himself
could never be suffered to go farther in the tribulation of Job, than
God from time to time gave him leave. And therefore the deep darkness
of the midnight maketh men that stand out of faith and out
of good hope in God, to be in their tribulation far in the greater
fear, for lack of the light of faith, whereby they might perceive that the
uttermost of their peril is a far less thing than they take it for.
But we be so wont to set so much by our body which we see and feel,
and in the feeding and fostering whereof we set our delight and our wealth, and
so little, alas! and so seldom we think on our soul, because we cannot
see that but by spiritual understanding, and most especially by the
eye of our faith (in the meditation whereof we bestow, God wot, little

time), that the loss of our body we take for a sorer thing and for a greater
tribulation a great deal than we do the loss of our soul. And
where our Savior biddeth us, that we should not fear those lions' whelps
that can but kill our bodies, and when that is done, have no further
thing in their power wherewith they can do us harm, but biddeth us
stand in dread of him, which when he hath slain the body, is able
then beside to cast the soul into everlasting fire; we be so blind in
the dark night of tribulation, for lack of full and fast belief of God's word,
that whereas in the day of prosperity we very little fear God for our
soul, our night's fear of adversity maketh us very sore to fear the
lion and his whelps, for dread of loss of our bodies.
And whereas Saint Paul in sundry places showeth us, that our body
is but as the garment of the soul; yet the faintness of our faith to the
scripture of God maketh us with the night's fear of tribulation more
to dread, not only the loss of our body than of our soul: that is, to
wit, of the clothing, than of the substance that is clothed therewith:
but also of the very outward goods that serve for the clothing of the
body. And much more foolish are we in that dark night's fear, than
were he that could forget the saving of his body for fear of losing of
his old rain-beaten cloak, that is but the covering of his gown or his
Now consider further yet, that the Prophet in the fore-rehearsed
verses saith not, that in the night walk only the lions' whelps, but
also, "omnes bestie silvarum" (all the beasts of the wood). Now wot you
well, that if a man walk through the wood in the night, many
things may make him afeard, of which in the day he would not be
afeard a whit, for in the night every bush to him that waxeth once
afeard, seemeth a thief.
I remember, that when I was a young man, I was once in the
war with the king, then my master (God assoil his soul!)
and we were camped within the Turk's ground many a mile beyond

Belgrade, which would God were ours now, as well as it was then!
But so happed it, that in our camp about midnight, there suddenly
rose a rumor and a scry that the Turk's whole army was secretly
stealing upon us, wherewith our whole host was warned to arm them
in haste, and set themselves in array to fight. And then were the scurriers of
ours that brought these sudden tidings, examined more leisurely by
the council, what surety or what likelihood they had perceived
therein. Of whom one showed, that by the glimmering of the moon he
had espied and perceived and seen them himself, coming on softly and
soberly in a long range, all in good order, not one farther forth than
the other in the forefront, but as even as a thread, and in breadth further
than he could see in length.
His fellows being examined said that he was somewhat pricked
forth before them, and came so fast back to tell it them that they thought
it rather time to make haste and give warning to the camp, than to go
nearer unto them: for they were not so far off, but that they had yet
themselves somewhat an imperfect sight of them too.
Thus stood we watching all the remnant of the night, evermore
hearkening when we should hear them come, with "Hush, stand still,
methink I hear a trampling;" so that at last many of us thought we
heard them ourselves also. But when the day was sprung, and that we
saw no man, out was our scourer sent again, and some of our captains
with him, to show whereabout the place was in which he
perceived them. And when they came thither they found that the
great fearful army of the Turks so soberly coming on, turned
(God be thanked!) into a fair long hedge, standing even stone still.
And thus fareth it in the night's fear of tribulation, in which
the devil to bear down and overwhelm with dread the faithful
hope that we should have in God, casteth in our imagination much
more fear than cause; for while there walk in that night not only
the lions' whelps, but over that, all the beasts of the wood besides, the

beast that we hear roaring in the dark night of tribulation, and fear it
for a lion, we sometimes find well afterward in the day, that it was
no lion at all, but a silly rude roaring ass: and the thing that on
the sea seemeth sometimes a rock, is indeed nothing else but a
mist. Howbeit, as the Prophet saith: He that faithfully dwelleth in
the hope of God's help, the pavise of his truth shall so fence
him round about, that be it an ass, colt, or a lion's whelp, or a
rock of stone, or a mist, "non timebit a timore nocturno" (the night's fear
thereof shall he nothing need to dread).
Of pusillanimity.
The Thirteenth Chapter
Therefore find I, that in the night's fear one great part is the fault
of pusillanimity, that is, to wit, faint and feeble stomach, by which a
man for faint heart is afeard where he needeth not; by the reason whereof
he fleeth oftentimes for fear of that thing of which if he fled
not, he should take none harm: and some man doth sometimes by
his fleeing make his enemy bold on him which would (if he fled not,
but durst abide thereby) give over and flee from him.
This fault of pusillanimity maketh a man in his tribulation for
feeble heart first impatient, and afterward oftentimes driveth him by
impatience into a contrary affection, making him frowardly stubborn
and angry against God, and thereby to fall into blasphemy, as do the damned
souls in hell. This fault of pusillanimity and timorous mind
letteth a man also many times from the doing of many good things,
which (if he took a good stomach to him in the trust of God's help)
he were well able to do: but the devil casteth him in a cowardice,
and maketh him take it for humility, to think himself unmeet

and unable thereto, and therefore to leave the good thing undone, whereof
God offereth him occasion, and had made him convenient thereto.
But such folk have need to lift up their hearts and call upon God,
and by the counsel of other good ghostly folk cast away the cowardice
of their own conceit, which the night's fear by the devil hath
framed in their fantasy, and look in the Gospel upon him which laid
up his talent and left it unoccupied, and therefore utterly lost it, with a
great reproach of his pusillanimity, by which he had weened he should
have excused himself, in that he was afeard to put it forth in ure and
occupy it. And all this fear cometh by the devil's drift, wherein he
taketh occasion of the faintness of our good and sure trust in God. And
therefore let us faithfully dwell in the good hope of his help, and then
shall the pavise of his truth so compass us about, that of this night's
fear we shall have no fear at all.
Of the daughter of pusillanimity, a scrupulous conscience.
The Fourteenth Chapter
This pusillanimity bringeth forth by the night's fear, a very timorous
daughter, a silly wretched girl, and ever puling, that is called
scrupulosity, or a scrupulous conscience. This girl is a meetly good
puzzle in an house, never idle, but ever occupied and busy: but albeit
she have a very gentle mistress that loveth her well, and is well content
with that she doth, or if it be not all well (as all cannot always be
well), content to pardon her as she doth other of her fellows,
and so letteth her know that she will; yet can this peevish girl never
cease whining and puling for fear lest her mistress be always angry
with her, and that she shall shrewdly be shent. Were her mistress,
ween you, like to be content with this condition? Nay, surely.

I knew such one myself, whose mistress was a very wise woman,
and (which is in woman rare) very mild also and meek, and liked very
well such service as she did her in her house, but this continual discomfortable
fashion of hers she so much misliked, that she would
sometimes say, "Eh! what aileth this girl? The elvish urchin weeneth
I were a devil, I trow. Surely if she did me ten times better service
than she doth, yet with this fantastical fear of hers I would be loath
to have her in my house."
Thus fareth, lo, the scrupulous person, which frameth himself many
times double the fear that he hath cause, and many times a great
fear where there is no cause at all and of that that is indeed no
sin, maketh a venial, and that that is venial, imagineth to be deadly.
And yet for all that falleth in them, being namely of their nature such as
no man long liveth without, and then he feareth that he be never full
confessed, nor never full contrite, and then that his sins be never full
forgiven him; and then he confesseth, and confesseth again, and cumbereth
himself and his confessor both; and then every prayer that he saith,
though he say it as well as the frail infirmity of the man will
suffer, yet is he not satisfied, but if he say it again, and yet after that
again. And when he hath said one thing thrice, as little is he satisfied
at the last, as with the first; and then is his heart evermore in heaviness,
unquiet, and in fear, full of doubt and dullness, without comfort or spiritual
With this night's fear the devil sore troubleth the mind of many
a right good man, and that doth he, to bring him to some great inconvenience:
for he will, if he can, drive him so much to the minding
of God's rigorous justice, that he will keep him from the comfortable
remembrance of God's great mighty mercy, and so make him do
all his good works wearily, and without consolation or quickness.

Moreover, he maketh him to take for sin something that is
none, and for deadly, some such as are but venial, to the intent that,
when he shall fall in them, he shall by reason of his scruple sin,
where else he should not, or sin deadly (while his conscience in the deed
doing so gave him), where indeed he had offended but venially.
Yea, and further, the devil longeth to make all his good works and
spiritual exercise so painful and so tedious unto him, that with some
other suggestion or false wily doctrine of a false spiritual
liberty, he should for the false ease and pleasure that he should suddenly
find therein, be easily conveyed from that evil fault into a much
worse, and have his conscience as wide and as large after as ever it was
narrow and strait before. For better is yet of truth a conscience little
too strait, than a little too large.
My mother had, when I was a little boy, a good old woman that
took heed to her children, they called her Mother Maud: I trow, you
have heard of her.
Yea, yea, very much.
She was wont, when she sat by the fire with us, to tell us that were
children many childish tales. But as Pliny saith, that there is no
book lightly so bad, but that some good thing a man may pick
out thereof; so think I there is almost no tale so foolish, but that
yet in one matter or other, to some purpose it may hap to serve. For I
remember me that among other of her fond tales, she told us once,
that the ass and the wolf came upon a time to confession to the
fox. The poor ass came to shrift in the Shrovetide, a day or two before
Ash Wednesday; but the wolf would not come to confession till he saw

first Palm Sunday past, and then foded yet forth farther until Good Friday.
The fox asked the ass before he began Benedicite, wherefore
he came to confession before Lent began so soon. The poor beast answered
him again; for fear of deadly sin, if he should lose his part of any
of those prayers that the priest in the cleansing days pray for them
that are then confessed already. There in his shrift he had a marvelous
grudge in his inward conscience, that he had one day given his
master a cause of anger, in that that with his rude roaring before his
master arose, he had awaked him out of his sleep, and bereaved him
of his rest. The fox for that fault, like a good discreet confessor,
charged him to do so no more, but lie still and sleep like a good son
himself, till his master were up and ready to go to work, and so should
he be sure, that he should not wake him no more.
To tell you all the poor ass's confession, it were a long work, for
everything that he did was deadly sin with him, the poor soul
was so scrupulous. But his wise wily confessor accounted them for
trifles, as they were, and swore after unto the badger, that he was so weary
to sit so long and hear him, that saving for the manner's sake, he had liefer
have sat all the while at breakfast with a good fat goose.
But when it came to the penance giving, the fox found that the
most weighty sin in all his shrift was gluttony, and therefore he discreetly
gave him in penance, that he should never for greediness of his
meat do any other beast any harm or hindrance, and then eat his
meat, and study for no more.
Now, as good Mother Maud told us, when the wolf came to Father
Reynard (for that was, she said, the fox's name) to confession upon Good
Friday, his confessor shook his great pair of beads upon him
almost as big as bowls, and asked him wherefore he came so late? "Forsooth,
Father Reynard," quoth he, "I must needs tell you the truth: I come

(you wot well) therefor, I durst come no sooner, for fear lest you would for
my gluttony have given me in penance to fast some part of this Lent."
"Nay, nay," quoth the Father Fox, "I am not so unreasonable: for I fast
none of it myself. For I may say to thee, son, here in confession between
us twain, it is no commandment of God this fasting, but an
invention of man. The priests make folk fast and put them to pain
about the moonshine in the water, and do but make folk fools: but they
shall make me no such fool, I warrant thee, son. For I eat flesh all
this Lent, myself I. Howbeit, indeed, because I will not be occasion of
slander, I therefore eat it secretly in my chamber, out of sight of all
such foolish brethren as for their weak scrupulous conscience would
wax offended withal, and so would I counsel you to do." "Forsooth,
Father Fox," quoth the wolf, "and so I thank God I do, as near as I can.
For when I go to my meat, I take none other company with me,
but such sure brethren as are of mine own nature, whose consciences
are not weak, I warrant you, but their stomachs as strong as mine." "Well
then, no force," quoth Father Fox.
But when he heard after by his confession, that he was so great a
ravener, that he devoured and spent sometimes so much victual at
one meal, as the price thereof would well find some poor man with his
wife and children almost all the week; then he prudently reproved
that point in him, and preached him a process of his own
temperance, which never used, as he said, to pass upon himself
the value of sixpence at a meal, no nor yet so much neither. "For
when I bring home a goose," quoth he, "not out of the poulter's shop,
where folk find them out of their feathers ready plucked, and see which is
the fattest and yet for sixpence buy and choose the best, but out of the housewife's
house at the first hand, which may somewhat better cheap afford
them, you wot well, than the poulter may, nor yet cannot be suffered
to see them plucked, and stand and choose them by day, but am fain by

night to take at a venture, and when I come home, am fain to do the
labor to pluck her myself too: yet for all this, though it be but lean,
and I ween not well worth a groat, serveth it me sometimes, for all that,
both dinner and supper too. And therefore, as for that you live of raven,
therein can I find no fault: you have used it so long, that I think you
can do none other. And therefore were it folly to forbid it you, and (to
say the truth) against good conscience too. For live you must, I wot
well, and other craft can you none; and therefore, as reason is, must you
live by that. But yet, you wot well, too much is too much, and measure is
a merry mean, which I perceive by your shrift you have never
used to keep. And therefore, surely, this shall be your penance: that
you shall all this year never pass upon yourself the price of sixpence
at a meal, as near as your conscience can guess the price."
Their shrift have I showed you, as Mother Maud showed it us. But
now serveth for our matter the conscience of them both, in the true
performing of their penance.
The poor ass after his shrift, when he waxed ahungered, saw a
sow lie with her pigs well lapped in new straw, and near he drew and
thought to have eaten of the straw. But anon his scrupulous conscience
began therein to grudge him. For while his penance was, that for
greediness of his meat he should do none other body none harm; he
thought he might not eat one straw thereof, lest for lack of that straw
some of those pigs might hap to die for cold. So held he still his
hunger, till one brought him meat. But when he should fall thereto,
then fell he yet in a far further scruple; for then it came in his mind
that he should yet break his penance, if he should eat any of that
either, since he was commanded by his ghostly father, that he should
not for his own meat hinder any other beast. For he thought, that if
he eat not that meat, some other beast might hap to have it, and so
should he by the eating of it peradventure hinder another. And
thus stood he still fasting, till when he told the cause, his ghostly father
came and informed him better, and then he cast off that scruple,
and fell mannerly to his meat, and was a right honest ass many a fair
day after.

The wolf now coming from shrift clean soiled from his sins,
went about to do, as a shrewd wife once told her husband that she
would do, when she came from shrift. "Be merry, man," quoth she, "now;
for this day I thank God, was I well shriven, and I purpose now therefore
to leave off all mine old shrewdness and begin even afresh."
Ah, well, Uncle, can you report her so? That word heard I her speak,
but she said it in sport to make her husband laugh.
Indeed it seemed she spoke it half in sport. For that she said she
would cast away all her shrewdness, therein I trow she sported; but in
that she said she would begin it all afresh, her husband found that
good earnest.
Well, I shall show her what you say, I warrant you.
Then will you make me make my word good; but whatsoever
she did, at the leastwise so fared now this wolf, which had
cast out in confession all his old raven, and then hunger pricked him
forward, that (as the shrewd wife said) he should begin all afresh.
But yet the prick of conscience withdrew and held him back, because
he would not for breaking of his penance, take any prey for his mealtide
that should pass the price of sixpence.
It happed him then as he walked prowling for his gear about, he
came where a man had in few days before cast off two old, lean, and
lame horses, so sick, that no flesh was there left on them and the

one, when the wolf came by, could scant stand upon his legs, and the
other already dead, and his skin ripped off and carried away. And as he
looked upon them, suddenly he was first about to feed upon them, and
whet his teeth on their bones. But as he looked aside, he spied a fair
cow in a close walking with her young calf by her side. And as soon as
he saw them his conscience began to grudge him against both
these two horses. And then he sighed, and said unto himself: "Alas! wicked
wretch that I am, I had almost broken my penance ere I was aware.
For yonder dead horse, because I never saw dead horse sold in the
market, and I should even die therefor, by the way that my sinful soul shall
to, I cannot devise what price I should set upon him, but in my
conscience I set him far above sixpence, and therefore, I dare not meddle with
Now, then, is yonder quick horse of likelihood worth a great deal of
money: for horses be dear in this country, especially such soft amblers;
for I see by his face he trotteth not, nor can scant shift a foot.
And therefore, I may not meddle with him, for he very far passeth my sixpence.
But cows this country here hath enough, but money have they very
little; and therefore, considering the plenty of the cows, and the scarcity
of the money, as for yonder peevish cow seemeth unto me in my conscience
worth not past a groat, and she be worth so much. Now, then, as
for her calf, is not so much as she by half. And therefore, while the cow is
in my conscience worth but fourpence my conscience cannot serve me for
sin of my soul to praise her calf above twopence, and so pass they not
sixpence between them both. And therefore, they twain may I well eat at
this one meal, and break not my penance at all." And so thereupon he
did, without any scruple of conscience. If such beasts could speak now,
as Mother Maud said they could then, some of them would, I ween, tell
a tale almost as wise as this. Wherein save for the diminishing of old
Mother Maud's tale, else would a shorter process have served:
but yet as peevish as the parable is, in this it serveth for our purpose,
that the night's fear of a conscience somewhat scrupulous, though it

be painful and troublous to him that hath it, like as this poor ass
had here, is less harm yet, than a conscience overlarge, or
such as for his own fantasy the man list to frame himself, now
drawing it narrow, now stretching it in breadth, after the manner of a
cheverel point, to serve on every side for his own commodity, as did
here the wily wolf.
But such folk are out of tribulation, and comfort need they none,
and therefore are they out of our matter.
But those that are in the night's fear of their own scrupulous
conscience, let them be well aware, as I said, that the devil, for weariness
of the one, draw them not into the other; and while he would flee from
Scylla, drive him into Charybdis. He must do as doth a ship that should
come into an haven, in the mouth whereof lie secret rocks under the
water on both sides. If he be by mishap entered in among
them that are on the one side, and cannot tell how to get out: he must
get a substantial, cunning pilot that so can conduct him from the
rocks on that side, that yet he bring him not into those that are on
the other side, but can guide him in the midway. Let them, I say
therefore, that are in the troublous fear of their own scrupulous conscience,
submit the rule of their conscience to the counsel of
some other good man, which, after the variety and the nature of the
scruples, may temper his advice. Yea, although a man be very
well-learned himself, yet let him in this case learn the custom used
among physicians. For be one of them never so cunning, yet in his own
disease and sickness he never useth to trust all to himself, but send
for such of his fellows as he knoweth meet, and putteth himself in
their hands for many considerations, whereof they assign the causes,
and one of the causes is fear, whereof upon some tokens he may conceive

in his own passion a great deal more than needeth; and then
were good for his health, that for the time he knew no such thing
at all.
I knew once in this town one of the most cunning men in that faculty,
and the best expert, and therewith the most famous too, and he that the
greatest cures did upon other men, and yet when he was himself
once very sore sick, I heard his fellows that then looked unto him,
of all which every one would in their own disease, have used his help
before any other man, wish yet that for the time of his own sickness,
being so sore as it was, he had known no physic at all, he took so
great heed unto every suspicious token, and feared so far the worst,
that his fear did him sometime much more harm, than the sickness
gave him cause.
And therefore, as I say, whoso hath such a trouble of his scrupulous
conscience, let him for a while forbear the judgment of himself,
and follow the counsel of some other, whom he knoweth for well-learned
and virtuous, and especially in the place of confession (for there is God
especially present with his grace, assisting his holy sacrament), and let
him not doubt to quiet his mind, and follow that that he is there
bade, and think for a while less of the fear of God's justice, and be more
merry in remembrance of his mercy, and persevere in prayer for grace,
and abide and dwell faithfully in the sure hope of his help. And then
shall he find without any doubt, that the pavise of God's truth shall,
as the Prophet saith, so compass him about, that he shall not dread
this night's fear of scrupulosity, but shall have his conscience established
in good quiet and rest.

Another kind of the night's fear, another daughter of
pusillanimity, that is, to wit, the horrible temptation, by
which some folk are tempted to kill
and destroy themselves.
The Fifteenth Chapter
Verily, good Uncle you have in my mind, well declared these kinds
of the night's fear.
Surely, Cousin, but yet are there many more than I can either remember,
or find: howbeit, one yet cometh to my mind, of which I
before nothing thought, and which is yet, in mine opinion, of all the
other fears the most horrible: that is, to wit, Cousin, where the devil
tempteth a man to kill and destroy himself.
Undoubtedly this kind of tribulation is marvelous and strange, and
the temptation is of such a sort, that some men have opinion, that
such as once fall in that fantasy, can never after full cast it off.
Yes, yes, Cousin, many an hundred, or else God forbid! But the thing
that maketh men so say, is because that of those which finally do
destroy themselves, there is much speech and much wondering, as it is
well worthy: but many a good man and woman, hath sometime, yea
divers years each after other, continually been tempted thereto, and
yet have by grace and good counsel, well and virtuously withstood

it, and been in conclusion clearly delivered of it, and their tribulation
nothing known abroad, and therefore nothing talked of. But surely,
Cousin, an horrible sore trouble it is to any man or woman that the
devil tempteth therewith. Many have I heard of, and with some have
I talked myself, that have been sore encumbered with that temptation,
and marked have I not a little the manner of them.
I require you, good Uncle, show me somewhat of such things as you
perceive therein.
For first, where you call this kind of temptation the daughter of
pusillanimity, and thereby so near of sib to the night's fear: methinketh,
on the other side, that it is rather a thing that cometh of a
great courage and boldness, when they dare their own hands put themselves
to death, from which we see almost every man shrink and flee,
and that many such, as we know by good proof and plain experience
for men of great heart and excellent hardy courage.
I said, Cousin Vincent, that of pusillanimity cometh this temptation,
and very truth it is that indeed so it doth. But I meant it not, that
of only faint heart and fear it cometh and groweth always. For the devil
tempteth sundry folks by sundry ways. But the cause wherefore I
spoke of none other kind of that temptation, than of only that which
is the daughter that the devil begetteth upon pusillanimity, was for
that, that those other kinds of that temptation fall not under the
nature of tribulation and fear, and therefore fall they far out of our matter
here, and are such temptations as only need counsel, and not comfort
or consolation, for that the persons therewith tempted be with that
kind of temptation not troubled in their mind, but verily well content,
both in the tempting and following. For some hath there been,
Cousin, such, that they have been tempted thereto by means of a foolish

pride, and some by the means of anger, without any dread at all, and very
glad to go thereto: to this I say not nay. But where you ween, that
none fall thereto by fear, but that they have all a strong mighty stomach:
that shall ye well see the contrary, and that peradventure in those
of whom you would ween the stomach most strong, and their heart and
courage most hardy.
Yet is it marvel unto me, that it should be as you say it is, that this
temptation is unto them that do it for pride or for anger no tribulation,
nor that they should need, in so great a distress and peril
both of body and soul to be lost, no manner of good ghostly comfort.
Let us therefore, Cousin, consider an example or two, for thereby shall we
the better perceive it.
There was here in Buda, in King Ladislaus' days, a good, poor, honest
man's wife: this woman was so fiendish, that the devil perceiving
her nature, put her in the mind that she should anger her husband
so sore, that she might give him occasion to kill her, and then should
he be hanged for her.
This was a strange temptation indeed. What the devil should she
be the better then?
Nothing, but that it eased her shrewd stomach before, to think
that her husband should be hanged after. And peradventure if you
look about the world and consider it well, you shall find more such
stomachs than a few. Have you never heard no furious body

plainly say, that to see some such man have a mischief, he would
with good will be content to lie as long in hell as God liveth in heaven?
Forsooth, and some such have I heard of.
This mind of his was not much less mad than hers, but rather
haply the more mad of the twain: for the woman peradventure did
not cast so far peril therein. But to tell you now to what good pass
the charitable purpose came: as her husband (the man was
a carpenter) stood hewing with his chip-axe upon a piece of timber,
she began after her old guise so to revile him, that the man waxed
wrath at last, and bade her get in or he would lay the helm of
his axe about her back, and said also, that it were little sin even
with that axe-head to chop off that unhappy head of hers that carried
such an ungracious tongue therein. At that word the devil took his
time, and whetted her tongue against her teeth, and when it was well
sharpened, she swore unto him in very fierce anger: "By the Mass, whoreson
husband, I would thou wouldst: here lieth my head, lo," (and therewith
down she laid her head upon the same timber log) "if thou smite
it not off, I beshrew thy whoreson heart." With that, likewise, as the devil
stood at her elbow, so stood (as I heard say) his good angel at his, and
gave him ghostly courage, and bade him be bold and do it. And so the
good man up with his chip-axe, and at a chop chopped off her
head indeed. There were standing other folk by, which had a good
sport to hear her chide, but little they looked for this chance, till it was
done ere they could let it. They said they heard her tongue babble in her
head, and call whoreson, whoreson, twice after the head was from the body.
At the leastwise afterward unto the king thus they reported all, except
only one, and that was a woman, and she said that she heard it not.

Forsooth, this was a wonderful work. What became, Uncle, of the
The king gave him his pardon.
Verily he might in conscience do no less.
But then was it farther almost at another point, that there should
have been a statute made, that in such case there should never
after pardon be granted, but the truth being able to be proved,
no husband should need any pardon, but should have leave by the law
to follow the example of the carpenter, and do the same.
How happed it, Uncle, that the good law was left unmade?
How happed it? As it happeth, Cousin, that many more be left unmade
as well as it, and within a little as good as it too, both here, and in
other countries, and sometimes some worse made in their stead.
But (as they say) the let of that law was the queen's grace, God forgive
her soul! it was the greatest thing, I ween, good lady, that she had to
answer for when she died. For surely, save for that one thing, she was
a full blessed woman.
But letting now that law pass, this temptation in procuring her
own death was unto this carpenter's wife no tribulation at all, as far as
ever men could perceive: for it liked her well to think thereon, and she
even longed therefor, And therefore, if she had told you or me

before her mind, and that she would so fain bring it so to pass, we
could have had no occasion to comfort her as one that were in
tribulation: but marry, counsel her (as I told you before) we might,
to refrain and amend that malicious devilish mind.
Verily that is truth; but such as are well-willing to do any
purpose that is so shameful, will never tell their mind to nobody for
very shame.
Some will not indeed, and yet are there some again, that be their
intent never so shameful, find some yet whom their heart serveth
them to make of their counsel therein. Some of my folk here can
tell you, that no longer ago than even yesterday, one that came out of
Vienna showed us among other talking, that a rich widow (but I
forgot to ask him where it happed) having all her life an high
proud mind and a fell, as those two virtues are wont always to keep
company together, was at debate with another neighbor of hers in
the town, and on a time she made of her counsel a poor neighbor of
hers, whom she thought for money she might induce to follow her
mind. With him secretly she broke, and offered him ten ducats for his
labor, to do so much for her as in a morning early to come to her
house, and with an axe unknown privily to strike off her head. And when
he had so done, then convey the bloody axe into the house of
him with whom she was at debate, in some such manner wise as it
might be thought that he had murdered her for malice, and then
she thought she should be taken for a martyr. And yet had she further
devised, that another sum of money should after be sent to Rome, and
that there should be means made to the pope, that she might in all haste be

This poor man promised, but intended not to perform it. Howbeit,
when he deferred it, she provided the axe herself, and he appointed
with her the morning when he should come and do it and thereupon into
her house he came. But then set he such other folk, as he would should
know, her frantic fantasy, in such place appointed as they might well
hear her and him talk together. And after that he had talked with
her thereof what he would, so much as thought was enough, he made
her lie down, and took up the axe in his one hand, and with the other
hand he felt the edge, and found a fault that it was not sharp, and that,
therefore, he would in no wise do it, till he had ground it sharper; he
could not else (he said) for pity, it would put her to so much pain: and
so full sore against her will for that time she kept her head still. But
because she would no more suffer any more deceive her so and feed her
forth with delays, ere it was very long after she hung herself her
own hands.
Forsooth, here was a tragical story, whereof I never heard the like.
Forsooth, the party that told it me, swore that he knew it for
a truth. And himself is, I promise you, such as I reckon for
right honest, and of substantial truth.
Now, here she letted not, as shameful a mind as she had, to make
one of her counsel yet: and yet as I remember, another too, whom
she trusted with the money that should procure her canonization.
And here, I wot well, that her temptation came not of fear, but of
high malice and pride. But then was she so glad in the pleasant device
thereof, that (as I showed you) she took it for no tribulation. And therefore,

comforting of her could have no place: but if men should anything
give her toward her help, it must have been (as I told you) good counsel.
And therefore, as I said, this kind of temptation to a man's own
destruction, which requireth counsel and is out of tribulation, was
out of our matter, that is to treat of comfort in tribulation.
Of him that were moved to kill himself by illusion of
the devil, which he reckoned for a revelation.
The Sixteenth Chapter
But lest you might reject both these examples, weening they were
but feigned tales, I shall put you but in remembrance of one, which I
reckon yourself have read in the Collations of Cassian. And if you
have not, there may you soon find it: for myself have half forgotten
the thing, it is so long since I read it. But thus much I remember,
that he telleth there of one that was many days a very special holy
man in his living, and among the other virtuous monks and
anchorites that lived there in wilderness was marvelously much esteemed,
saving that some were not all out of fear of him, lest his revelations,
whereof he told many by himself, would prove illusions of the devil:
and so proved it after indeed. For the man was by the devil's subtle
suggestions brought into such an high spiritual pride, that in conclusion
the devil brought him to that horrible point, that he made
him go kill himself, and as far as my mind giveth me now without
new sight of the book, he brought him to it by this persuasion, that
he made him believe, that it was God's will he should so do, and that
thereby should he go straight to heaven.
And then if it were by that persuasion, with which he took very
great comfort in his own mind himself, then was it (as I said) out of
our case, and needed not comfort, but counsel against giving credence
to the devil's persuasion.

But marry, if he made him first perceive, how he had been deluded,
and then tempted him to his own death by shame and by despair, then
was it within our matter, lo. For then was his temptation fallen down
from pride to pusillanimity, and was waxen that kind of the night's fear
that I spoke of, wherein a good part of the counsel that were to be
given him, should have need to stand in good comforting; for then
was he brought into right sure tribulation.
But as I was about to tell you, strength of heart and courage is there
none therein, not only for that very strength, as it hath the name of
virtue in a reasonable creature, can never be without prudence; but
also for that, as I said, even in them that seem men of most hardiness,
it shall well appear to them that well weigh the matter, that the mind,
whereby they be led to destroy themselves, groweth out of pusillanimity and
very foolish fear.
Take for the example, Cato Uticensis, which in Africa killed himself
after the great victory that Julius Caesar had. St. Augustine well
declareth in his work De Civitate Dei, that there was no strength nor
magnanimity therein, but plain pusillanimity and impotency of stomach,
whereby he was forced to the destruction of himself, because
his heart was too feeble to bear the beholding of another man's glory,
or the suffering of other worldly calamities, that he feared should fall on
himself. So that (as Saint Augustine well proveth) that horrible deed
is no act of strength, but an act of the mind either drawn from the
consideration of itself with some devilish fantasy, wherein the man
hath need to be called home with good counsel, or else oppressed by
faint heart and fear, wherein a good part of the counsel must stand in
lifting up his courage with good consolation and comfort.
And therefore, if we found any such religious person, as was that

father which Cassian writeth of, that were of such austerity and
apparent ghostly living, that he were with such, as well knew him,
reputed for a man of singular virtue, and that it were perceived, that
he had many strange visions appearing unto him: if it should now be
perceived after that, that the man went about secretly to destroy himself,
whoso should hap to come to the knowledge thereof, and intended
to do his devoir in the let: first must he find the means to search and
find out, whether the man be in his manner and in his countenance,
lightsome, glad, and joyful, or dumpish, heavy, and sad: and whether he go
thereabout, as one that were full of the glad hope of heaven, or as one
that had his breast farced full of tediousness and weariness of the world.
If he were found in the first fashion, it were a token that the devil
hath by his fantastical apparitions puffed him up in such a peevish
pride, that he hath finally persuaded him by some illusion showed
him for the proof, that God's pleasure is that he shall for his sake
with his own hands kill himself.
Now if a man so found it, Uncle? What counsel should a man give
him then?
That were somewhat out of our purpose, Cousin: since, as I told you
before, the man were not then in sorrow and tribulation, whereof our
matter speaketh, but in a perilous merry mortal temptation, so that
if we should beside our own matter that we have in hand enter into that
too, we might make a longer work between both, than we
could well finish this day. Howbeit, to be short, it is soon seen, that
therein the sum and the effect of the counsel must in manner rest in
giving him warning of the devil's sleights, and that must be done
under such sweet, pleasant manner, as the man should not abhor to

hear it. For while it could lightly be none other, but that the man
were rocked and sung asleep by the devil's craft, and his mind
occupied as it were in a delectable dream he should never have good
audience for him, that would rudely and boisterously shog him and
wake him, and so shake him out thereof. Therefore must you fair and
easily touch him, and with some pleasant speech awake him, so that
he wax not wayward, as children do that are waked ere they list
to rise.
But when a man hath first begun with his praise (for if he be
proud, ye shall much better please him with a commendation than
with a dirge), then after favor won therewithal, a man may a little
and little insinuate the doubt of such revelations, not at the first as it
were for any doubt of his but of some other that men in some other
places talk of. And peradventure it shall not miscontent himself,
to show great perils that may fall therein in another man's case than
his own and shall begin to preach upon it.
Or if you were a man that had not so very great scrupulous conscience
of an harmless lie devised to do good withal, which kind
St. Augustine, though he take always for sin, yet he taketh but for venial,
and St. Jerome (as by divers places in his books appeareth) taketh not
fully for so much: then may you feign some secret friend of yours to
be in such case, and that yourself somewhat fear his peril, and have
made of charity this voyage for his sake to ask this good father's
counsel. And in that communication upon these words of Saint
John: "Nolite omni spiritui credere, sed probate spiritus si ex Deo sint" (Give
not credence to every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they be
of God); and these words of Saint Paul: "Angelus Sathane transfigurat
se in angelum lucis" (The angel of Satan transfigureth himself into

the angel of light). You shall take occasion the better, if they hap to
come in on his own side, but yet not lack occasion neither, if those texts
(for lack of his offer) come in upon your own; occasion, I say, you
shall not lack to inquire, by what sure and undeceivable tokens a man
may discern the true revelations from the false illusions, whereof a
man shall find many both here, and there in divers other authors,
and whole together diverse goodly treatises of that good godly doctor,
Master Jean Gerson, entitled, De Probatione Spirituum.
As, whether the party be natural wise, or anything seem fantastical;
whether the party be poor-spirited, or proud, which will somewhat
appear by his delight in his own praise; or if of wiliness, or of another
pride for to be praised of humility, he refuse to hear thereof yet any
little fault found in himself, or diffidence declared, and mistrust of his
own revelations, and doubtful tokens told, wherefore himself should fear
lest they be the devil's illusions: such things (as Master Gerson saith)
will make him to spit out somewhat of his spirit, if the devil lie in his
Or if the devil be yet so subtle, that he keep himself close in his
warm den, and blow out never an hot word, yet is it to be considered,
what end his revelations draw to, whether to any spiritual
profit to himself or other folk, or only to vain marvels and
Also, whether they withdraw him from such other good, virtuous
business, as by the common rules of Christendom, or any rules of his
profession, he was wont to use, or were bound to be occupied in.
Or whether he fall into any singularity of opinions against the
scripture of God, or against the common faith of Christ's Catholic
Many other tokens are there in that work of Master Gerson spoken
of, to consider by, whether the person neither having revelations of

God, nor illusions from the devil, do either for winning of money, or
worldly favor, feign his revelations himself and delude the
people withal. But now for our purpose, if among any of the marks,
by which the true revelations may be known from false illusions,
that man himself bring forth for one mark the doing or teaching
of anything against the scripture of God, or the common faith of the
Church; then have you an entry made you, by which when you list
you may enter into the special matter, wherein he can never well flit
from you.
Or else may you yet, if you list, feign that your secret friend, for
whose sake you come to him for counsel, is brought in that mind
by a certain apparition showed unto him (as himself saith) by an
angel, as you fear, by the devil; that he can be by you none otherwise
persuaded as yet, but that the pleasure of God is, that he shall go
kill himself: and that if he so do, then shall he be thereby so especially
participant of Christ's Passion, that he shall forthwith be carried up
with angels into heaven. For which is he so joyful, that he firmly
purposeth upon it, no less glad to do it than another man would
be glad to avoid it. And therefore may you desire his good counsel, to
instruct you with some substantial good advice, wherewith you may
turn him from this error, that he be not (under hope of God's true
revelation) in body and soul destroyed by the devil's false illusion.
If he will in this thing study and labor to instruct you, the
thing that himself shall find of his own invention, though they be
less effectual, shall peradventure more work with himself toward
his own amendment, since he shall of likelihood better like them, than
shall double so substantial things told him by another man.
If he be loath to think upon that side, and therefore shrink from the

matter; then is there none other way, but adventure after the plain
fashion to fall into the matter and show what you hear, and to give
him counsel and exhortation to the contrary; but if you list to say,
that thus and thus hath the matter been reasoned already between your
friend and you, and therein may you rehearse such things, as should prove
that the vision which moveth him is no true revelation, but a very
false illusion.
Verily, Uncle, I well allow this, that a man should as well in this thing,
as every other wherein he longeth to do another man good, seek such
a pleasant way as the party should be likely to like, or at the leastwise
well to take in worth his communication: and not so to enter in thereunto,
as he, whom he would help, should abhor him and be loath to hear
him, and therefore take no profit by him. But now, Uncle, if it come by
the one way or the other, to the point that hear me he will, or shall;
what be the reasons effectual with which I should by my counsel
convert him?
All those, by which you may make him perceive that himself
is deceived, and that his visions be no godly revelations, but very devilish
illusions. And those reasons must you gather of the man, of
the matter and of the law of God, or of some one of these. Of the man:
if you can peradventure show him, that in such a point or such, he
is waxen worse since such revelations have haunted him than he was
before, as in those that are deluded, whoso be well acquainted with
them shall well mark and perceive. For they wax more proud, more
wayward, more envious, suspicious, misjudging, and depraving
other men, with the delight of their own praise, and such other spiritual
vices of the soul.

Of the matter may you gather, if it have happed his revelations
before to prove false, or that they be things rather strange than
profitable. For that is a good mark between God's miracles and the
devil's wonders. For Christ and his saints have their miracles always
tending to fruit and profit: the devil and his witches and necromancers,
all their wonderful works draw to no fruitful end, but to a fruitless
ostentation and show, as it were a juggler that would, for a show before
the people, play masteries at a feast.
Of the law of God you must draw your reasons, in showing by the
scripture that the thing which he weeneth God by his angel biddeth,
God hath his own mouth forbidden. And that is, you wot well, in the
case that we speak of, so easily to find, that I need not to rehearse it to
you, since there is plain among the commandments forbidden the
unlawful killing of any man: and therefore of himself, as St. Augustine
saith, and all the Church teacheth, except himself be no man.
This is very true, good Uncle, nor I will not dispute upon any glossing
of that prohibition. But since we find not the contrary, but that God
may dispense with that commandment himself, and both license
and command also, if himself list, any man to go kill either
another man or himself either: this man that is now by such a
marvelous vision induced to believe that God so biddeth him and therefore
thinketh himself in that case of that prohibition discharged,
and charged with the contrary commandment; with what reason
may we make him perceive that his vision is but an illusion, and not a
true revelation?
Nay, Cousin Vincent, ye shall in this case not need to require those

reasons of me: but taking the scripture of God for a ground for this
matter, you know very well yourself, you shall go somewhat a shorter
way to work, if you ask this question of him, that since God hath once
forbidden the thing himself, though he may dispense therewith if he
will, yet since the devil may feign himself God, and with a marvelous
vision delude one, and make as though God did it, and since the devil
is also more likely to speak against God's commandment than God
against his own; you shall have good cause, I say, to demand of
the man himself, whereby he knoweth that his vision is God's true
revelation, and not the devil's false delusion.
Indeed, Uncle, I think, that would be an hard question for him. May
a man, Uncle, have in such a thing even a very sure knowledge in his own
Yea, Cousin, God may cast into the mind of man, I suppose, such an
inward light of understanding that he cannot fail but be sure thereof.
And yet he that is deluded by the devil may think himself as sure
and yet be deceived indeed. And such a difference is there in a manner
between them, as is between the sight of a thing while we be waking
and look thereon, and the sight with which we see a thing in our
sleep, while we dream thereof.
This is a pretty similitude, Uncle, in this thing; and then is it easy for
the monk that we speak of, to declare how he knoweth his vision for
a true revelation and not a false delusion, if there be so great difference
between them.

Not so easy, Cousin, as you ween it were. For how can you now prove
unto me that you be awake?
Marry lo: do I not now wag my hand, shake my head, and stamp
with my foot here in the floor?
Have you never dreamed ere this, that you have done the same?
Yes, that have I, and more too than that. For I have ere this in my
sleep dreamed that I doubted whether I were asleep or awake, and have
in good faith thought that I did thereupon even the same things
that I do now indeed, and thereby determined that I was not asleep.
And yet have I dreamed in good faith further, that I have been afterward
at dinner, and there making merry with good company, have told
the same dream at the table and laughed well thereat, that (while I
was asleep) I had by such means of moving the parts of my body,
and considering thereof, so verily thought myself waking.
And will you not now as soon, trow you, when you wake and rise, laugh
as well at yourself, when you see that you lie now in your warm
bed asleep again and dream all this time, while you ween so verily
that you be waking and talking of these matters with me?
God's Lord, Uncle, you go now merrily to work with me

indeed, when you look and speak so sadly, and would make me ween I
were asleep.
It may be that you be so, for anything that you can say or do,
whereby you may with any reason that you make drive me to confess,
that yourself, be sure of the contrary: since you can do nor say nothing
now, whereby you be sure to be waking, but that you have ere this, or
hereafter may, think yourself so surely to do the selfsame things
indeed, while you be all the while asleep, and nothing do but lie dreaming.
Well, well, Uncle, though I have ere this thought myself awake, while
I was indeed asleep: yet for all that this I know well enough that I
am awake now, and so do you too, though I cannot find the words
by which I may with reason enforce you to confess it, but that always
you may drive me off by the example of my dream.
This is, Cousin, as meseemeth very true. And likewise seemeth me the
manner and difference between some kinds of true revelations, and some
kind of false illusions, as it standeth between the things that are
done waking, and the things that in our dreams seem to be done while
we be sleeping: that is, to wit, that he which hath that kind of revelation
from God is as sure of the truth as we be of our own deed while
we be waking. And he that is illuded by the devil, is in such wise
deceived, and worse too, than be they by their dream, and yet reckoneth
for the time himself as sure as the other, saving that the one
falsely weeneth and the other truly knoweth.

But I say not, Cousin, that this kind of sure knowledge cometh in every
kind of revelation. For there are many kinds, whereof were
too long to talk now: but I say that God doth, or may do, to man in
some thing certainly send some such.
Yet then may this religious man, of whom we speak, when I show
him the scripture against his revelation (and therefore call it an illusion),
bid me with reason go care for myself. For he knoweth well and
surely himself, that his revelation is very good and true, and not any
false illusion, since for all the general commandment of God in the
scripture, God may dispense where he will, and when he will, and may
command him to do the contrary, as he commanded Abraham to
kill his own son, and as Sampson had by inspiration of God commandment
to kill himself with pulling down the house upon his
own head at the feast of the Philistines.
Now, if I would then do, as you bade me right now, tell him that
such apparitions may be illusions, and since God's word is in the
scripture against him plain for the prohibition, he must prove
me the truth of his revelation, whereby that I may know it is not a
false illusion; then shall he bid me again tell him, whereby that I
can prove myself to be awake and talk with him, and not to be asleep
and dream so, since in my dream I may as surely ween so, as I know
that I do so. And thus shall he drive me to the same bay, to which
I would bring him.
This is well said, Cousin, but yet could he not scape you so. For
the dispensation of God's common precept (which dispensation

he must say that he hath by his private revelation) is a thing
of such sort as showeth itself naught and false. For it never hath had
any example like since the world began until now, that ever man hath
read or heard of among faithful people commended.
First in Abraham, as touching the death of his son, God intended it not,
but only tempted the towardness of the father's obedience. In Sampson
all men make not the matter very sure whether he be saved or not,
but yet therein some matter appeareth. For the Philistines being enemies
to God, and using Sampson for their mocking-stock in scorn of God,
it is well likely that God gave him the mind to bestow his own life
upon the revenging of the displeasure that those blasphemous Philistines
did unto God. And that appeareth meetly clear by this, that though
his strength failed him when he wanted his hair, yet had he not, as
it seemeth, that strength evermore at hand while he had his hair,
but at such times as it pleased God to give it him. Which thing
appeareth by these words that the scripture in some place of that matter
saith: "Irruit virtus Domini in Sampson" (The power or might of God
rushed into Sampson). And so therefore, while this thing that he did in
the pulling down of the house was done by the special gift of
strength then at that point given him by God; it well declareth, that
the strength of God, and therewith the Spirit of God, entered into him
St. Augustine also rehearseth that certain holy, virtuous virgins, in
time of persecution, being by God's enemies -- infidels -- pursued
upon to be deflowered by force, ran into a water and drowned themselves,
rather than they would be bereaved of their virginity. And albeit that
he thinketh it is not lawful for any other maid to follow their example,
but rather suffer other to do her any manner violence by force, and
commit sin of his own upon her against her will, than willfully, and
thereby sinfully, herself become an homicide of herself; yet he
thinketh, that in them it happed by the special instinct of the Spirit

of God, that (for causes seen unto himself) would rather that they
should avoid it with their own temporal death than abide the
defiling and violation of their chastity.
But now this good man neither hath any of God's enemies to be by
his own death revenged on: nor any woman that violently pursueth him
by force to bereave him of his virginity: nor never find we, that God
proved any man's obedient mind by the commandment of his own
slaughter of himself. Therefore is his case both plain against God's
open precepts, and the dispensation strange and without example, no
cause appearing, or well imaginable; but if he would think that he
could neither any longer live without him, or take him to him in
such wise as he doth other men, but command him to come by a
forbidden way, by which without other cause we never heard that ever
he bade any man else before.
Now whether you think, that if you should after this bid him tell you
by what way he knoweth that his intent riseth upon a true
revelation, and not upon a false illusion, he would bid you then again
tell him by what means you know, that you be talking with him,
well waking, and not dream it sleeping; you may tell him again that
men thus talk together as you do, and in such manner wise and to
prove and perceive that they so do by the moving of themselves, with
putting the question thereof unto themselves for their pleasure. And the
marking and considering thereof is in waking a daily common thing
that every man doth, or may do when he will. And when they do it,
they do it but of pleasure. But in sleep it happeth very seldom that
men dream that they so do, nor in their dream never put the question
but for doubt. And therefore it is more reason that since his revelation is
such also as happeth so seldom, and oftener happeth that men dream of such,

than have such indeed; therefore is it more reason (you may tell him)
that he show you whereby he knoweth in such a rare thing, and a thing
more like a dream, that himself is not asleep, than you in such a
common thing among folk that are waking, and so seldom happing
in a dream, should need to show him whereby you know that you be not
Besides this himself, to whom you should show it, seeth and perceiveth
the thing that he would bid you prove, but the thing that he
would make you believe (the truth of his revelation which you bid
him prove) you see not, he wotteth well himself. And therefore ere you
believe it against the scripture, it were well consonant unto reason
that he should show you whereby he knoweth it for a true
waking revelation, and not a false dreaming delusion
Then shall he peradventure say to me again, that whether I
believe him, or not, maketh him no matter: the thing toucheth himself,
and not me. And himself is in himself as sure, that it is a true revelation,
as that he can tell that he dreameth not but talketh with me
Without doubt, Cousin, if he abide at that point, and can be by no
reason brought to do so much as doubt, nor can by no means be
shogged out of his deep sleep, but will needs take, his dream for a very
truth, and as some by night rise and walk about their chamber in their
sleep, will so rise an hang himself: I can then no other way see,
but either bind him fast in his bed, or else assay whether that might
hap to help him with which the common tale goeth, that a carver's
wife in such a frantic fantasy helped her husband. To whom when

he would upon a Good Friday needs have killed himself for Christ's sake,
as Christ was killed for him, she would not in vain plead against his
mind, but well and wisely put him in remembrance, that if he would
die for Christ as Christ died for him, it were then convenient for him
to die even after the same fashion. And that might not be by his own
hands, but by the hand of some other: for Christ, pardie, killed not
And because her husband should need to make no more of counsel
(for that would he not in no wise) she offered him, that for God's
sake she would secretly crucify him herself on a great cross,
that he had made to nail a new carved crucifix upon. Whereof
when he was very glad, yet she bethought her, that Christ was
bound to a pillar and beaten first, and after crowned with thorns. Whereupon
when she had (by his own assent) bound him fast to a post,
she left not beating, with holy exhortation to suffer so much and so long,
that ere ever she left work and unbound him, praying him nevertheless
that she might put on his head, and drive it well down, a crown of thorns
that she had wreathed for him and brought him: he said, he thought
this was enough for that year; he would pray God to forbear him of the
remnant, till Good Friday come again. But when it came again
the next year then was his lust past: he longed to follow Christ no
Indeed, Uncle, if this help him not, then will nothing help him, I
And yet, Cousin, the devil may peradventure make him toward such

a purpose first gladly to suffer other pain, yea and diminish his feeling too
therein, that he may thereby the less fear his death: and yet are peradventure
sometimes such things and many more to be assayed. For as
the devil may hap to make him suffer, so may he hap to
miss, namely, if his friends fall to prayer for him against his
temptation: for that can himself never do, while he taketh it for
none. But for conclusion, if the man be surely proved so inflexibly
set upon the purpose to destroy himself as commanded thereto
by God, that no good counsel that men can give him, nor any other
thing that men may do to him, can refrain him, but that he would
surely shortly kill himself: then, except only good prayer by his
friends made for him, I can find no further shift, but either have him
ever in sight, or bind him fast in his bed. And so must he needs of
reason be content to be ordered. For though himself take his fantasy
for a true revelation, yet since he cannot make us perceive it for such,
likewise as he thinketh himself by his secret commandment
bound to follow it, so must be needs agree, that since it is against the
plain open prohibition of God, we be by the plain open precept
bound to keep him from it.
In this point, Uncle, I can go no further. But now if he were upon
the other side perceived to mind his destruction, and go thereabout with
heaviness of heart and thought and dullness, what way were there to be used
with him then?
Then were his temptation, as I told you before, properly pertaining

to our matter. For then were he in a sore tribulation, and a very
perilous: for then were it a token, that the devil had either by
bringing him into some great sin, brought him into despair, or
peradventure by his revelations found false and reproved, or by some
secret sin of his deprehended and divulged, cast him both in despair
of heaven through fear, and in a weariness of this life for shame, since he
seeth his estimation lost among other folk, of whose praise he was
wont to be proud. And therefore, Cousin, in such case as this is, the
man is to be fair handled and sweetly, and with dulce and tender loving
words to be put in good courage and comfort in all that men godly
Here must they put him in mind, that if he despair not,
but pull up his courage and trust in God's great mercy, he shall have
in conclusion great cause to be glad of this fall. For before he stood
in greater peril than he was aware of, while he took himself for
better than he was, and God, for favor that he bareth him, hath
suffered him to fall deep into the devil's danger, to make him
thereby know what he was while he took himself for so sure. And
therefore as he suffered him then to fall for a remedy against overbold
pride, so will God now (if the man meek himself, not with fruitless
despair, but with fruitful penance) so set him up again upon
his feet, and so strengthen him with his grace, that for this one fall that
the devil has given him, he shall give the devil an hundred. And here
must he be put in remembrance of Mary Magdalen, of the prophet
David, and especially of St. Peter, whose high bold courage took a foul
fall, and yet because he despaired not of God's mercy, but wept and called
upon it, how highly God took him into his favor again,
in his holy scripture is well testified, and well through Christendom
And now shall it be charitably done, if some good virtuous folk,

such as himself esteemeth, and hath before longed to stand in
estimation with, do resort sometime unto him, not only to give
him counsel, but also to ask advice and counsel of him in some
cases of their own conscience, to let him thereby perceive, that they
no less esteem him now, but rather more than they did before, since
they think him now by his fall better expert of the devil's craft, and
thereby not only better instructed himself, but also better able to
give good advice and counsel unto other. This thing will, in my mind,
well amend and lift up his courage from the peril of that desperate
Methink, Uncle, that this were a perilous thing. For it may peradventure
make him set the less by his fall, and, thereby cast him into
his first pride, or into his other sin again, the falling whereinto
drove him into this despair.
I do not mean, Cousin, that every fool should at adventure fall in
hand with him; for so, lo, might it hap to do harm indeed. But,
Cousin, if a cunning physician have a man in hand, he can well discern,
when, and how long, some certain medicine is necessary, which at another
time ministered, or at that time overlong continued, might
put the patient in peril.
If he have his patient in an ague, to the cure whereof he needeth his
medicines (in their working) cold: yet if he hap, ere that fever be full
cured, to fall into some such other disease, as except it were
helped with hot medicines were likely to kill the body before the
fever could be cured: he would for awhile have his most care to the
cure of that thing wherein were most present peril, and when that

were once out of jeopardy, do then the more exact diligence after, about
the further cure of the fever.
And likewise, if the ship were in peril to fall into Scylla, the fear of
falling into Charybdis on the other side shall never let any wise
master thereof to draw him from Scylla toward Charybdis first in all
that ever he may. But when he hath him once so far away from Scylla
that he seeth himself safe out of that danger, then will he begin to take
good heed to keep him well from the other. And in like wise while this
man is falling down to despair and to the final destruction of himself
a good, wise, spiritual leech will first look unto that, and by good
comfort lift up his courage: and when he seeth that peril well past, care
for the cure of his other faults after. Howbeit, even in the giving
of his comfort, he may find ways enough in such wise to temper his
words, that the man may take occasion of good courage, and yet far
from occasion giving of new recidivation into his former sin: since
the great part of his counsel shall be to courage him to amendment,
and that is, pardie, far from falling into sin again.
I think, Uncle, that folk fall into this ungracious mind through the
devil's temptation by many more ways than one.
That is, Cousin, very true. For the devil taketh his occasion as he
seeth them fall meet for him. Some he stirreth to it for weariness
of themselves after some great loss, some for fear of horrible
bodily harm, and some, as I said, for fear of worldly shame. One wist
I myself, that had been long reputed for a right honest man, which

was fallen in such a fantasy, that he was well near worn away therewith.
But what he was tempted to do, that would he not tell no man,
but he told unto me that he was sore cumbered, and that it always ran
in his mind that folk's fantasies were fallen from him, and that they
esteemed not his wit as they were wont to do, but ever his mind gave
him that the people began to take him for a fool. And folk, of truth,
nothing so did at all, but reputed him both for wise and honest.
Two other knew I that were marvelously afeard that they should kill
themselves, and could tell me no cause wherefore they so feared it, but only
that their own mind so gave them. Neither loss had they any had,
nor no such thing toward them, nor none occasion of any worldly
shame; the one in body very well liking and lusty, but wondrous
weary were they both twain of that mind, and always they thought
that do it they would not for nothing, and nevertheless ever they feared
they should. And wherefore they so feared, neither of them both could
tell; and the one, lest he should do it, desired his friends to bind him.
This is, Uncle, a marvelous strange manner.
Forsooth, Cousin, I suppose that many of them are in this case. The devil
as I said before seeketh his occasions. For as Saint Peter saith:
"Adversarius vester diabolus quasi leo rugiens circuit, quarens quem
devoret" (Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking
whom he may devour). He marketh well therefore the state and condition
that every man standeth in, not only concerning these outward

things, lands, possessions, goods, authority, fame, favor, or
hatred of the world, but also men's complexions within them, health
or sickness, good humors or bad, by which they be light-hearted or
lumpish, strong-hearted or faint and feeble of spirit, bold and hardy, or
timorous and fearful of courage. And after as these things minister
him matter of temptation, so useth he himself in the manner of his
Now likewise as such folk as are full of young warm, lusty blood and
other humors, exciting the flesh to filthy, voluptuous living, the
devil useth to make those things his instruments in tempting them
and provoking them thereunto: and where he findeth some folk full of
hot blood and choler, he maketh those humors his instruments to set
their heart on fire in wrath and fierce furious anger; so where he findeth
some folk which through some dull melancholious humors are naturally
disposed to fear, he casteth sometimes such a fearful imagination
in their mind, that without help of God they can never cast it out of
their hearts. Some, at the sudden falling of some horrible thought
into their mind, have not only had a great abomination thereat
(which abomination they well and virtuously had thereat),
but the devil using their malicious humor (and thereby their natural
inclination to fear) for his instrument, hath caused them to conceive
therewith such a deep dread beside, that they ween them self with
that abominable thought, to be fallen into such an outrageous sin,
that they, be ready to fall into despair of grace, weening that God hath
given them over for ever: whereas that thought (were it never so
horrible and never so abominable) is yet unto them that never like it,
but even still abhor it, and strive still thereagainst, matter of conscience
and merit, and not any sin at all.
Some have, with holding a knife in their hand, suddenly thought

upon the killing of themselves, and forthwith in devising what an
horrible thing it were, if they should mishap so to do, have fallen in
a fear that they should so do indeed, and have with long and often thinking
thereon imprinted that fear so sore in their imagination, that
some of them have not after cast it off without great difficulty, and some
could never in their life be rid thereof, but have after in conclusion
miserably done it indeed. But likewise as where the devil useth the
blood of a man's own body toward his purpose in provoking him to
lechery, the man must, and doth, with grace and wisdom, resist it: so
must that man do, whose malicious humors the devil abuseth toward
the casting of such a desperate dread into his heart.
I pray you, Uncle, what advice were to be given him in such case?
Surely methinketh his help standeth in two things, counsel
and prayer. First, as concerning counsel, likewise as it may be
that he hath two things that hold him in his temptation; that is, to
wit, some evil humors of his own body, and the cursed devil that
abuseth them to his pernicious purpose; so must he need against
them twain the counsel of two manner of folk: that is, to wit,
physicians for the body and physicians for the soul. The bodily
physician shall consider what abundance the man hath of those
evil humors that the devil maketh his instrument in moving the
man toward that fearful affection, and as well by diet convenient,
and medicines meet therefor, to resist them, as by purgations to disburden
the body of them.
Nor let no man think strange that I would advise a man to take

counsel of a physician for the body in such a spiritual passion.
For since the soul and the body be so knit and joined together, that
they both make between them one person; the distemperance of
either other engendereth sometimes the distemperance of both
And therefore, like as I would advise every man in every sickness of the
body, be shriven and seek of a good spiritual physician the sure health
of his soul, which shall not only serve against peril that may
peradventure further grow by that sickness than in the beginning
men would ween were likely: but the comfort thereof and God's favor
increasing therewith, shall also do the body good (for which cause
the blessed apostle Saint James exhorteth men, that they shall
in their bodily sickness induce the priests, and saith, that it shall do
them good both in body and soul), so would I sometimes advise some
men in some sickness of the soul, beside their spiritual leech, take
also some counsel of the physician for the body. Some that are
wretchedly disposed, and yet long to be more vicious than they be, go
to physicians and apothecaries, and inquire what things may serve to make
them more lusty to their foul fleshly delight: and were it then
any folly upon the other side, if he that feeleth himself against his
will much moved unto such uncleanness, should inquire of the physician
what thing without diminishing of his health, were meet for the
diminishment of such foul fleshly motion?
Of spiritual counsel the first is to be shriven, that by reason of
his other sins the devil have not the more power upon him.
I have heard some say, Uncle, that when such folk have been at
shrift, their temptation hath been the more brim upon them
than it was before.

That think I very well: but that is a special token that shrift is
wholesome for them, while the devil is with that most wroth. You find
in some places of the Gospel, that the devil the person (whom he
possessed) did most trouble when he saw that Christ would cast him
out. We must else let the devil do what he will, if we fear his anger:
for with every good deed will he wax angry.
Then is it in his shrift to be showed him, that he not only feareth
more than he needeth, but also feareth where he needeth not,
and over that, is sorry of that thing whereof (but if he will willingly
turn his good into his harm) he hath more cause to be glad.
First, if he have cause to fear, yet feareth he more than he needeth;
for there is no devil so diligent to destroy him as God is to preserve
him, nor no devil so near him to do him harm as God is to do
him good: nor all the devils in hell so strong to invade and assault
him as God is to defend him, if he distrust him not, but faithfully
put his trust in him.
He feareth also where he needeth not. For where he dreadeth that he
were out of God's favor, because such horrible thoughts fall in his
mind against his will, they be not imputed unto him. He is finally
sad of that he may be glad: for since he taketh such thoughts displeasantly,
and striveth and fighteth against them, he hath thereby a good
token that he is in God's favor, and that God assisteth him and helpeth
him, and may make himself sure, that so will God never cease to
do, but if himself fail and fall from him first. And over that, this
conflict that he hath against his temptation, shall (if he will not fall
where he need not) be an occasion of his merit, and of a right great
reward in heaven: and the pain that he taketh therein shall for so
much (as M. Gerson well showeth) stand him in stead of his
purgatory. The manner of the fight against this temptation must

stand in three things: that is, to wit, in resisting and in contemning,
and in the invocation of help.
Resist must a man for his own part with reason, considering
what a folly it were to fall where he needeth not, while he is not
driven to it in avoiding of any other pain, or in hope of winning
any manner of pleasure: but contrariwise should by that pain lose
everlasting life and fall into everlasting pain: and if it were in avoiding
of other great pain, yet could he avoid none so great thereby,
as he should thereby fall into.
He must also consider, that a great part of this temptation is in
effect but the fear of his own fantasy, the dread that he hath lest he
shall once be driven to it. Which thing he may be sure, that, but if
himself will of his own folly, all the devils in hell can never drive
him to, but his own foolish imagination may. For likewise as some
man going over an high bridge, waxeth so afeard through his own fantasy,
that he falleth down indeed, which were else able enough to pass
over without any danger; and as some man shall upon such a
bridge, if folk call upon him, "You fall, you fall," fall with the
fantasy that he taketh thereof, which bridge, if folk looked merrily upon
him, and said, there is no danger therein, he would pass over well
enough, and would not let to run thereon, if it were but a foot from the
ground: thus fareth it in this temptation. The devil findeth the man
of his own fond fantasy afeard, and then crieth he in the ear of his heart,
"Thou fallest, thou fallest," and maketh the fond man afeard, that he
should at every foot fall indeed. And the devil so wearieth him with
that continual fear (if he give the ear of his heart unto him), that
at the last he withdraweth his mind from the due remembrance of
God and then driveth him to that deadly mischief indeed.
Therefore, like as against the vice of the flesh the victory standeth not
all whole in the fight, but sometimes also in the flight (saving that it is

indeed a part of a wise warrior's fight, to flee from his enemies' trains),
so must a man in this temptation too, not only resist it always with
reasoning thereagainst, but sometimes set it clear at right naught,
and cast it off when it cometh, and not once regard it so much as to vouchsafe
to think thereon. Some folk have been clearly rid of such pestilent
fantasies with very full contempt thereof, making a cross upon
their hearts and bidding the devil avaunt, and sometimes laugh him to
scorn too, and then turn their mind to some other matter. And when
the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain
assays, made in such times as he thought most meet, he hath given
that temptation quite over, both for that the proud spirit cannot
endure to be mocked, and also lest with much tempting the
man to the sin whereto he could not in conclusion bring him, he
should much increase his merit.
The final fight is by invocation of help unto God both praying for
himself, and desiring other also to pray for him, both poor folk for
his alms, and other good folk for their charity, especially good priests
in that holy sacred service of the Mass, and not only them, but
also his own good angel, and other holy saints, such as his devotion
especially stand unto. Or if he be learned, use then the Litany with the
holy suffrages that follow, which is a prayer in the Church of marvelous
old antiquity, not made first, as some ween it were, by that holy
man Saint Gregory, which opinion rose of that, that in the
time of a great pestilence in Rome, he caused the whole city go in
solemn procession therewith; but it was in use in the Church many
years before St. Gregory's days, as well appeareth by the books of
other holy doctors and saints that were dead hundreds of years before

St. Gregory was born. And holy Saint Bernard giveth counsel, that
every man should make suit to angels and saints, to pray for him
to God in the things that he would have sped at his holy hand. If
any man will stick at that, and say it need not, because God can hear us
himself, and will also say that it is perilous so to do, because they
say we be not so counseled by no scripture; I will not dispute the
matter here. He that will not do it, I let him not to leave it undone.
But yet for mine own part, I will as well trust to the counsel of Saint
Bernard, and reckon him for as good and as well-learned in the scripture,
as any man that I hear say the contrary: and better dare I jeopard
my soul with the soul of Saint Bernard than with his that findeth
that fault in his doctrine.
Unto God himself every man counseleth to have recourse
above all, and in this temptation to have special remembrance of
Christ's Passion, and pray him for the honor of his death, the ground of
man's salvation, keep this person thus tempted from that damnable
death. Special verses may there be drawn out of the psalter against
the devil's wicked temptations, as for example: "Exurgat Deus, et dissipentur
inimici eius, et fugiant qui oderunt eum a facie eius" and many
other, which are in such horrible temptation to God pleasant, and to the
devil very terrible: but none more terrible, nor more odious to the
devil, than the words with which our Savior drove him
away himself: "Vade Sathana," nor no prayer more acceptable unto
God, nor more effectual for the matter, than those words which
our Savior hath taught himself, "Ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed
libera nos a malo."
And I doubt not, by God's grace, but he that in such a temptation
will use good counsel and prayer, and keep himself in good virtuous
business and good virtuous company, and abide in the faithful
hope of God's help, shall have the truth of God (as the Prophet saith
in the verse fore-rehearsed) so compass him about with a pavise, that

he shall not need to dread this night's fear of this wicked temptation.
And thus will I finish this piece of the night's fear, and glad am I
that we be past it, and come once unto the day to those other words
of the Prophet: "A sagitta volante in die" for methinketh I have made
it a long night.
Forsooth, Uncle, so have you: but we have not slept in it, but been very
well occupied. But now I fear, that except you make here a pause till
you have dined, you shall keep yourself from your dinner over
Nay, nay, Cousin, for both broke I my fast even as you came in, and
also you shall find this night and this day like a winter day and a winter
night. For as the winter hath short days, and long nights, so shall you
find that I made not this fearful night so long, but I shall make
you this light courageous day as short. And so shall the matter require
well of itself indeed. For in those words of the Prophet:
"Scuto circumdabit te veritas eius, a sagitta volante in die" (The truth of God
shall compass thee round about with a pavise, from the arrow flying
in the day), I understand the arrow of pride, with which the devil
tempteth a man, not in the night, that is to wit, in tribulation and adversity
(for that time is too discomfortable and too fearful for pride),
but in the day, that is, to wit, in prosperity; for that time is full of
lightsome lust and courage. But surely this worldly prosperity, wherein a
man so rejoiceth, and whereof the devil maketh him so proud, is but
even a very short winter day.
For we begin many full poor and cold, and up we fly like an arrow

that were shot up into the air: and yet when we be suddenly shot
up into the highest, ere we be well warm there, down we come unto
the cold ground again, and then even there stick we still. And yet
for the short while that we be upward and aloft: Lord! how lusty and
how proud we be, buzzing above busily like as a bumble bee flieth
about in summer, never aware that she shall die in winter: and so fare
many of us, God help us! For in the short winter day of worldly wealth
and prosperity, this flying arrow of the devil, this high spirit of
pride, shot out of the devil's bow and piercing through our heart, beareth
us up in our affection aloft into the clouds, where we ween we sit
on the rainbow and overlook the world under us, accounting in
the regard of our own glory such other poor souls, as were peradventure
wont to be our fellows, for silly poor pismires and ants.
But this arrow of pride, fly it never so high in the clouds, and be
the man that it carrieth up so high, never so joyful thereof: yet let him
remember, that be this arrow never so light, it hath yet an heavy
iron head. And therefore fly it never so high, down must it needs come
and on the ground must it light, and falleth sometimes not in a very
cleanly place: but the pride turneth into rebuke and shame, and there is
then all the glory gone.
Of this arrow speaketh the wise man in the fifth chapter of Sapience,
where he saith in the person of them that in pride and vanity passed the
time of this present life, and after that so spent, passed hence into hell:
"Quid profuit nobis superbia? aut divitiarum iactantia quid contulit nobis? Transierunt
omnia illa tanquam umbra, etc. aut tanquam sagittae emissae in locum destinatum:
divisus aer continuo in se reclusus est, ut ignoretur transitus illius: sic et
nos nati continuo desivimus esse, et virtutis quidem nullum signum valuimus
ostendere: in malignitate autem nostra consumpti sumus. Talia dixerunt in
inferno ii qui peccaverunt." (What hath pride profit us, or what good hath

the glory of our riches done unto us? Passed are all those things
like a shadow, etc., or like an arrow shot out into the place appointed:
the air that was divided, is by and by returned into the place, and in
such wise closed together again, that the way is not perceived in which
the arrow went: and in like wise we, as soon as we were born, be
by and by vanished away, and have left no token of any good virtue behind
us, but are consumed, and wasted, and come to naught in our own malignity.)
They, lo, that have lived here in sin, such words have they
spoken when they lay in hell.
Here shall you, good Cousin, consider, that whereas the scripture
here speaketh of the arrow shot into his place appointed or intended;
in shooting of this arrow of pride there be divers purposings and
appointings. For the proud man himself hath no certain purpose
or appointment at any mark, butt, or prick upon earth
whereat he determineth to shoot, and there to stick and tarry: but ever he
shooteth as children do that love to shoot up a cope high, to see how
high their arrow can fly up.
But now doth the devil intend and appoint a certain prick surely
set in a place, into which he purposeth (fly this arrow never so high,
and the proud heart thereon) to have them light both at last: and that
place is in the very pit of hell. There is set the devil's well acquainted
prick, and his very just mark, down upon which prick with his
pricking shaft of pride he hath by himself a plain proof and experience
that (but if it be stopped by some grace of God by the way) the
soul that flieth up therewith, can never fail to fall. For when himself
was in heaven, and began to fly up a cope high with that lusty light
flight of pride, saying: "Ascendam super astra, et ponam solium meum ad
latera aquilonis, et ero similis Altissimo" (I will sty up above the stars,
and set my throne on the sides of the north, and will be like unto the

Highest): long ere he could fly up half so high, as he said in his heart he
would, he was turned from a bright glorious angel into a dark
deformed devil; and from flying any further upward, down was he
thrown into the deep dungeon of hell.
Now may it peradventure, Cousin, seem, that since this kind of
temptation of pride is no tribulation or pain; all this that we speak
of this arrow of pride flying forth in the day of prosperity were beside
our matter.
Verily, mine Uncle, and so seemed it unto me, and somewhat was I minded
so to say to you too: saving that, were it properly pertaining to the
present matter, or somewhat digressing therefrom, good matter methought
it was, and such as I had no lust to let.
But now must you, Cousin, consider, that though prosperity be contrary
to tribulation, yet unto many a good man the devil's temptation
unto pride in prosperity, is a greater tribulation, and more need
hath of good comfort and good counsel both, than he, that never felt
it, would ween. And that is the thing, Cousin, that maketh me speak thereof,
as of a thing proper to this matter. For, Cousin, as it is a thing right
hard to touch pitch and never defile the fingers, to put flax unto fire and
yet keep them from burning, to keep a serpent in thy bosom, and yet be
safe from stinging, to put young men with young women, without danger
of foul fleshly desires: so is it hard for any person, either man
or woman, in great worldly wealth and much prosperity, so to withstand
the suggestions of the devil, and occasions given by the world,
that, they keep themselves from the deadly desire of ambitious glory.
Whereupon there followeth, if a man fall thereto, an whole flood of
all unhappy mischief, arrogant manner, high sullen solemn port,

overlooking the poor in word and countenance, displeasant and disdainous
behavior, ravine, extortion, oppression, hatred, and cruelty.
Now many a good man, Cousin, coming into great authority, casting
in his mind the peril of such occasions of pride as the devil taketh
of prosperity to make his instruments of, wherewith to move men to
such high point of presumption, as engendereth so many great inconveniences,
and feeling the devil therewith offering to themselves
suggestions thereunto, they be sore troubled therewith, and some fall so
feared thereof, that even in the day of prosperity they fall into the
night's fear of pusillanimity, and doubting overmuch lest they should
misuse themselves, leave the things undone, wherein they might use
themselves well, and mistrusting the aid and help of God in holding them
upright in their temptations, give place to the devil in the contrary
temptation. Whereby for faint heart, they leave off good business
wherein they were well occupied, and under pretext (as it seemeth to
themselves) of humble heart and meekness, and serving God in contemplation
and silence, they seek their own ease and earthly rest unaware,
wherewith (if it so be) God is not well content.
Howbeit, if it so be that a man feel himself such indeed, as by
the experience that he hath of himself, he perceiveth that in wealth and
authority he doth his own soul harm, and cannot do therein the good
that to his part appertaineth, but seeth the things that he should set
his hand to sustain decay through his default, and fall to ruin under
him, and that to the amendment thereof he leaveth his own duty undone;
then would I in anywise advise him, to leave off that thing, be it
spiritual benefice that he have, parsonage or bishopric, or
temporal room and authority, and rather give it over quite, and draw
himself aside and serve God, than take the worldly worship and commodity
for himself, with incommodity of them whom his duty
were to profit. But on the other side, if he see not the contrary, but that
he may do his duty conveniently well, and feareth nothing, but that

the temptations of ambition and pride may peradventure turn
his good purpose and make him decline unto sin, I say not nay,
but that well done it is, to stand in moderate fear always, whereof the
scripture saith: "Beatus homo, qui semper est pavidus" (Blessed is the man
that is always fearful): and Saint Paul saith: "Qui stat, videat ne cadat"
(He that standeth, let him look that he fall not): yet is overmuch fear
perilous, and draweth toward the mistrust of God's gracious help,
which immoderate fear and faint heart holy scripture forbiddeth,
saying: "Noli esse pusillanimis" (Be not feeble-hearted or timorous).
Let such a man therefore temper his fear with good hope, and think,
that since God hath set him in that place (if he think that God have
set him therein), God will assist him with his grace to the well using
thereof: howbeit, if he came thereto by simony or some such other
evil means, then were that thing one good reason, wherefore he should
the rather leave it off. But else let him continue in his good business,
and against the devil's provocation unto evil, bless himself, and
call unto God and pray; and look what thing the devil tempteth him, to
lean the more to the contrary. Let him be piteous and comfortable
to those that are in distress and affliction: I mean not, to let every
malefactor pass forth unpunished, and freely run out and rob at rovers,
but in his heart be sorry to see, that of necessity for fear of decaying the
commonweal, men are driven to put malefactors to pain. And yet
where he findeth good tokens and likelihood of amendment, there, in all
that he may, help that mercy be had: there shall never lack
desperately disposed wretches enough beside, upon whom, for example,
justice may proceed. Let him think in his own heart every poor
beggar his fellow.
That will be very hard, Uncle, for an honorable man to do, when

he beholdeth himself richly appareled, and the beggar rigged in his
If here were, Cousin, two men that were beggars both, and afterward a
great rich man would take the one unto him, and tell him,
that for a little time he would have him in his house, and thereupon
arrayed him in silk, and gave him a great bag by his side filled even
full of gold, but giving him this knot therewith, that within a little
while, out he should in his old rags again, and bear never a penny with
him. If this beggar met his fellow now, while his gay gown were
on, might he not for all his gay gear take him for his fellow still?
And were he not a very fool, if for a wealth of a few weeks he would
ween himself far his better?
Yes, Uncle, if the difference of their state were none other.
Surely, Cousin, methinketh that in this world between the richest
and the most poor the difference is scant so much. For let the highest
look on the most base, and consider how poor they came both into this
world, and then consider further therewith how rich soever he be now,
he shall yet within a while, peradventure less than one week, walk
out again as poor as that beggar shall; and then, by my troth, methinketh
this rich man much more than mad, if for the wealth of a
little while, haply less than one week, he reckon himself in earnest
any better than the beggar's fellow. And less than thus can no man
think that hath any natural wit and well useth it.
But now a Christian man, Cousin, that hath the light of faith, he cannot
fail to think on this thing much further. For he will not think
only upon his bare coming hither, and his bare going hence again,

but also upon the dreadful judgment of God, and upon the fearful
pains of hell, and the inestimable joys of heaven. And in the considering
of these things he will call to remembrance, that
peradventure when this beggar and he be both departed hence, the beggar
may be suddenly set up in such royalty, that well were himself
that ever was he born, if he might be made his fellow. And
he that well bethinketh him, Cousin, upon these things, I verily
think that the arrow of pride flying forth in the day of worldly
wealth shall never so wound his heart that ever it shall bear him up
one foot.
But now to the intent he may think on such things the better, let
him use often to resort to confession, and there open his heart, and by
the mouth of some virtuous ghostly father have such things often
renewed in his remembrance.
Let him also choose himself some secret solitary place in his own
house, as far from noise and company as he conveniently can, and
thither let him sometimes secretly resort alone, imagining himself
as one going out of the world, even straight unto the giving up
his reckoning unto God of his sinful living. Then let him there before
an altar, or some pitiful image of Christ's bitter Passion (the
beholding whereof may put him in remembrance of the thing, and
move him to devout compassion), kneel down or fall prostrate, as at
the feet of Almighty God, verily believing him to be there invisibly
present, as without any doubt he is. There let him open his heart
to God, and confess his faults such as he can call to mind, and pray God
of forgiveness. Let him call to remembrance the benefits that God
hath given him either in general among other men, or privately to
himself, and give him humble hearty thanks therefor.
There let him declare unto God the temptations of the devil, the
suggestions of the flesh, the occasions of the world, and of his worldly
friends, much worse many times in drawing a man from God than

are his most mortal enemies. Which thing our Savior witnesseth
himself, where he saith: "Inimici hominis domestici eius" (The enemies
of a man are they that are his own familiars).
There let him lament and bewail unto God his own frailty, negligence,
and sloth in resisting and withstanding of temptation, his readiness
and pronity to fall thereunto.
There let him beseech God of his gracious aid and help,
to strengthen his infirmity withal, both in keeping him from falling,
and when he by his own fault misfortuneth to fall, then with the
helping hand of his merciful grace to lift him up and set him on his
feet in the state of his grace again,
and let this man not doubt but that God heareth him, and granteth
him gladly his boon: and so dwelling in the faithful trust of God's
help, he shall well use his prosperity, and persevere in his good profitable
business, and shall have therein the truth of God so compass him
about with a pavise of his heavenly defense, that of the devil's arrow
flying in the day of worldly wealth, he shall not need to dread.
Forsooth, Uncle, I like this good counsel well, and I would ween that
such as are in prosperity and take such order therein, may do both to
themselves, and other folk about, much good.
I beseech our Lord, Cousin, put this and better in the mind of every man
that needeth it. And now will I touch one word or twain of the third
temptation, whereof the Prophet speaketh in these words: "A negocio
perambulante in tenebris" (From the business walking in the darkness): and
then will we call for our dinner, leaving the last temptation (that is to
wit, "Ab incursu et demonio meridian" -- From the incursion, and the devil
of the midday), till afternoon, and then shall we therewith, God willing,
make an end of all this matter.

Our Lord reward you, good Uncle, for your good labor with me.
But for our Lord's sake take good heed, Uncle, that you forbear not
your dinner over long.
Fear not that, Cousin, I warrant you, for this piece will I make you
but short.
Of the devil named "negocium perambulans in tenebris,"
that is to wit, business walking in the darkness.
The Seventeenth Chapter
The Prophet saith in the said psalm, "Qui habitat in adiutorio Altissimi,
in protectione Dei celi commorabitur. Scuto circumdabit te veritas eius, non
timebis a timore etc. A negotio perambulante in tenebris" (He that dwelleth
in the faithful hope of God's help, he shall abide in the protection
and safeguard of God of heaven; and thou that art such one, shall the
truth of him so compass about with a pavise, that thou shalt not
be afeard) of the business walking about in the darknesses.
Negocium is here, Cousin, the name of a devil that is ever full of business,
in tempting folk to much evil business. His time of tempting is in
the darknesses. For you wot well, that besides the very full night,
which is the deep dark, there are two times of darknesses. The one,
ere the morning wax light; the other, when the evening waxeth
Two times of like manner darkness are there also in the soul of
man: the one, ere the light of grace be well in the heart sprung

up; the other, when the light of grace out of the soul beginneth
to walk fast away.
In these two darknesses this devil, that is called business, busily walketh
about, and such folk as will follow him he carrieth about with him,
and setteth them a work with many manner bumbling business.
He setteth, I say, some to seek the pleasures of the flesh in eating,
drinking, and other filthy delight, and some he setteth about incessant
seeking for these worldly goods:
and of such busy folk, whom this devil, called business (walking about
in the darknesses) setteth awork with such business, our Savior saith
in the Gospel, "Qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit quo vadit" (He that walketh
in darknesses wotteth not whither he goeth). And surely in such case
are they: for they neither wot which way they go, nor whither. For
verily they walk round about, as it were in a round maze; when
they ween themselves at an end of their business, they be but at the
beginning again. For is not the going about the serving of the
flesh a business that hath no end, but evermore from
the end cometh to the beginning again? Go they never so full fed
to bed, yet evermore on the morrow as new be they to be fed again
as they were the day before.
Thus fareth it by the belly; thus fareth it by those parts that are
beneath the belly. And as for covetousness, fareth like the fire, the more
wood that cometh thereto, the more fervent and the more greedy it is.
But now hath this maze a center or middle place, into which sometimes
they be conveyed suddenly when they ween they were not yet
far from the brink.
The center or middle place of this maze is hell, and into that place
be there busy folk that with this devil of business walk about in this
busy maze in the darknesses, suddenly sometime conveyed, nothing

aware whither they be going, and even while they ween that they
were not far walked from the beginning, and that they had yet a great
way to walk about before they should come to the end. But of these
fleshly folk walking in this busy pleasant maze, the scripture declareth
the end: "Ducunt in bonis dies suos, et in puncto ad inferna descendunt" (They
lead their life in pleasure, and at a pop down they descend into hell).
Of the covetous men saith St. Paul: "Qui volunt divites fieri, incidunt
in tentationem et in laqueum diaboli, et desideria multa inutilia et nociva,
quae mergunt homines in interitum et perditionem" (They that long to be
rich do fall into temptation and into the grin of the devil,
and into many desires unprofitable and harmful, which drown men
into death and into destruction).
Lo, here is the middle place of this busy maze, the grin of the
devil, the place of perdition and destruction that they fall and be caught
and drowned in ere they be aware.
The covetous rich man also that our Savior speaketh of in the
Gospel, that had so great plenty of corn that his barns would not
receive it, but intended to make his barns larger, and said unto himself
that he would make merry many days, had weened (you wot well)
that he had had a great way yet to walk. But God said unto him,
"Stulte, hac nocte tollent a te animam tuam: quae autem parasti, cuius erunt?"
(Fool, this night shall they take thy soul from thee, and then all this
good that thou hast gathered, whose shall it be?) Here you see that he
fell suddenly into the deep center of this busy maze, so that he was
fallen full therein long ere ever he had weened he should have come near
Now this wot I very well, that those that are walking about in this
busy maze take not their business for any tribulation, and yet are
there many of them forwearied as sore, and as sore panged and pained
therein, their pleasures being so short, so little, and so few, and their displeasures
and their griefs so great, so continual, and so many, that
maketh me think upon a good worshipful man, which, when he

divers times beheld his wife, what pain she took in straight binding
up her hair to make her a fair large forehead, and with straight
bracing in her body to make her middle small, both twain to her
great pain for the pride of a little foolish praise: he said unto her,
"Forsooth, madam, if God give you not hell, he shall do you great
wrong. For it must needs be your own of very right: for you buy it
very dear, and take very great pain therefor."
They that now lie in hell for their wretched living here, do now
perceive their folly in the more pain that they took here for the less
pleasure. There confess they now their folly, and cry out, "Lassati sumus
in via iniquitatis" (We have been wearied in the way of wickedness). And
yet while they were walking therein, they would not rest themselves, but
run on still in their weariness, and put themselves still unto more
pain and more, for that little peevish pleasure, short and soon gone, that
they took all that labor and pain for, beside the everlasting pain
that followed it for their further advantage after.
So help me God, and none otherwise but as I verily think, that
many a man buyeth hell here with so much pain, that he might have
bought heaven with less than the one half.
But yet, as I say, while these fleshly and worldly busy folk are walking
about in this round busy maze of the devil that is called business
that walketh about in these two times of darkness, their wits are so
by the secret enchantment of the devil bewitched, that they mark
not the great long miserable weariness and pain that the devil maketh
them take and endure about naught, and therefore they take it for
no tribulation: so that they need no comfort. And therefore it is not for
their sakes that I speak all this, saving that it may serve them for
counsel toward the perceiving of their own foolish misery, through
the good help of God's grace beginning to shine upon them
again. But there are very good folk and virtuous that are in the
day light of grace, and yet because the devil tempteth them busily to

such fleshly delight, and since they see plenty of worldly substance fall
unto them, and feel the devil in like wise busily tempt them to set their
heart thereupon, they be so troubled therewith, and begin to fear
thereby, that they be not with God in the light, but with this devil that
the Prophet calleth negotium, that is to say, business, walking about in
the two times of darkness.
Howbeit, as I said before of those good folk and gracious that are
in the worldly wealth of great power and authority, and thereby fear the
devil's arrow of pride: so say I now here again of these that stand
in dread of fleshly foul sin and covetousness, since they be but tempted
therewith and follow it not, albeit that they do well to stand ever in
moderate fear, lest with waxing overbold, and setting the thing over
light, they might peradventure mishap to fall in thereto: yet sore to
vex and trouble themselves with the fear of loss of God's favor
therefor, is without necessity, and not always without peril. For, as I said
before, it withdraweth the mind of a man far from spiritual consolation
of the good hope that he should have in God's help. And as for
those temptations, while he that is tempted followeth them not, the
fight against them serveth a man for matter of merit and reward in
heaven, if he not only flee the deed, the consent and the delectation, but
also (in that he conveniently may) flee from all the occasions thereof. And
this point is in those fleshly temptations eth to perceive, and meetly
plain enough. But in these worldly businesses pertaining unto covetousness,
therein is the thing somewhat more dark, and in the perceiving more
difficulty, and very great troublous fear doth there oftentimes
arise thereof in the hearts of very good folk when the world falleth
fast unto them, because of the sore words and terrible threats, that God
in holy scripture speaketh against those that are rich: as where Saint
Paul saith: "Qui volunt divites fieri, incidunt in tentationem, et in laqueum
diaboli" (They that will be rich fall into temptation, and into the grin
of the devil). And where our Savior saith himself: "Facilius est camelum
per foramen acus transire, quam divitem intrare in regnum Dei" (It is more

easy for a camel), or, as some say (for camelus so signifieth in the Greek
tongue) for a great cable-rope, (to go through a needle's eye,
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God):
no marvel now though good folk that fear God take occasion of
great dread at so dreadful words, when they see worldly goods
fall to them, and some stand in doubt whether it be lawful for them to
keep any goods or no. But evermore in all those places of scripture,
the having of the worldly goods is not the thing that is rebuked
and threatened, but the affection the haver unlawfully beareth thereto.
For where Saint Paul saith, "Qui volunt divites fieri," etc. (They that will
be made rich), he speaketh not of the having, but of the will and the
desire and affection to have and the longing for it: for that cannot
be lightly without sin. For the thing that folk sore long for, they
will make many shifts to get, and jeopard themselves therefor. And to
declare that the having of riches is not forbidden, but the inordinate
affection of the mind sore set thereupon, the Prophet saith: "Divitiae
si affluant, nolite cor apponere" (If riches flow unto you, set not your heart
thereupon). And albeit that our Lord, by the said example of the camel,
or cable-rope, to come through the needle's eye, said that it is not
only hard, but also impossible, for a rich man to enter into the
kingdom of heaven: yet he declared, that though the rich man cannot
get into heaven of himself, yet God, he said, can get him in well
enough. For unto man, he said, it was impossible, but not unto God;
for unto God, he said, all things are possible. Yet over that, he told of
which manner rich men he meant that could not get into the kingdom
of heaven, saying: "Filioli, quam difficult est confidentes in pecuniis
regnum Dei introire!" (My babes, how hard is it for them that put their
trust and confidence in their money, to enter into the kingdom
of God!)

This I suppose very true and else God forbid! For else were the
world in a very hard case, if every rich man were in such danger
and peril.
That were it, Cousin, indeed; and so, I ween, is it yet. For I fear me
that to the multitude, there be very few, but that they long sore to be
rich: and of those that so long to be, very few reserved also, but that
they set their heart very sore thereon.
This is, Uncle, I fear me, very true, but yet not the thing that I was
about to speak of, but the thing that I would have said was this: that
I cannot well perceive (the world being such as it is, and so many
poor people therein) how any man may be rich, and keep him rich
without any danger of damnation therefor. For all the while that he
seeth poor people so many that lack, while himself hath to give them,
and whose necessity (while he hath therewith) he is bound in such case
of duty to relieve, so far forth that holy St. Ambrose saith, that whoso
that die for default where we might help them, we kill them: I cannot
see but that every rich man hath great cause to stand in great
fear of damnation, nor I cannot perceive, as I say, how he can be
delivered of that fear, as long as he keepeth his riches. And therefore
though he might keep his riches, if there lacked poor men, and yet stand
in God's favor therewith as Abraham did, and many another holy
rich man since; yet in such abundance of poor men as there be now in
every country, any man that keepeth any riches, it must needs be that
he hath an inordinate affection thereunto, while he giveth it not out
unto the poor needy persons, that the duty of charity bindeth

and straineth him to. And thus, Uncle, in this world at this day,
meseemeth your comfort unto good men that are rich and troubled
with fear of damnation for the keeping, can very scantly serve.
Hard it is, Cousin, in many manner things, to bid or forbid, affirm
or deny, reprove or allow, a matter nakedly proposed and put forth,
or precisely to say, this thing is good, or this thing is naught, without
consideration of the circumstances.
Holy St. Augustine telleth of a physician that gave a man a medicine
in a certain disease that helped him. The selfsame man, at another
time in the selfsame disease, took the selfsame medicine
himself, and had thereof more harm than good; which thing when
he showed unto the physician, and asked him whereof that harm should
hap; "that medicine," quoth he, "thee did no good but harm, because
thou tookest it when I gave it thee not." This answer St. Augustine very
well alloweth, for that though the medicine were one, yet might
there be peradventure in the sickness some such difference as the
patient perceived not, yea or in the man himself, or in the place, or
the time of the year. Many things might make the lot, for which the
physician would not then have given him the selfsame medicine that
he gave him before. To peruse every circumstance that might,
Cousin, in this matter be touched, and were to be considered and weighed,
would indeed make this part of this devil of business a very busy
piece of work and a long. But I shall a little open the point that
you speak of, and shall show you what I think therein, with as few
words as I conveniently can, and then will we go to dinner.
First, Cousin, he that is a rich man, and keepeth all his good, he hath, I
think, very good cause to be very feared indeed. And yet I fear me, that
such folk fear least; for they be very far from the state of good men
since if they keep still all, then are they very far from charity, and do
(you wot well) alms, either little or none at all. But now is our question,
Cousin, not in what case the rich man standeth that keepeth all,

but whether we should suffer men to stand in a perilous dread and fear
for the keeping of any great part. For that if by the keeping still of
so much as maketh a rich man still, they stand in the state of damnation;
then are the curates bound plainly to tell them so,
according to the commandment of God given unto them all in the
person of Ezekiel: "Si dicente me ad impium, morte morieris, non annuntiaveris
ei, etc." ( If when I say to the wicked man, thou shalt die, thou do
not show it unto him), nor speak unto him, that he may be turned
from his wicked way and may live, he shall soothly die in his wickedness,
and his blood shall I verily require of thine hand.
But, Cousin, though God invited men unto the following of himself
in willful poverty, by the leaving of all together at once for his sake,
as the thing whereby with being out of the solicitude of worldly
business, and far from the desire of earthly commodities, they may the
more speedily get and attain the state of spiritual perfection,
and the hungry desire and longing for celestial things; yet
doth he not command every man so to do upon the peril of damnation.
For where he saith, "Qui non renuntiaverit omnibus quae possidet
non potest meus esse discipulus" (He that forsaketh not all that ever he hath,
cannot be my disciple), he declareth well by other words of his own
in the selfsame place a little before, what he meaneth. For there saith
he more, "Si quis venit ad me, et non odit patrem suum, et matrem, et
uxorem, et filios, et fratres, et sorores, adhuc autem et animam suam, non
potest meus esse discipulus" (He that cometh to me, and hateth not his
father and his mother, and his wife and his children, and his brethren and
his sisters, yea and his own life too, cannot be my disciple).
Here meaneth our Savior Christ, that none can be his disciple, but
if he love him so far above all his kin, and above his own life too,
that for the love of him, rather than to forsake him, he shall forsake
them all. And so meaneth he by those other words, that whosoever
do not renounce and forsake all that ever he hath in his own heart
and affection, that he will rather lose it all, and let it go every whit,

than deadly displease God with the reserving of any one part thereof,
he cannot be Christ's disciple; since Christ teacheth us to love God
above all thing, And he loveth not God above all thing, that contrary
to God's pleasure keepeth any thing that he hath. For that thing he
showeth himself to set more by than by God, while he is better content
to lose God than it. But, as I said, to give away all, or that no man
should be rich or have any substance, that find I no commandment of.
There are, as our Savior saith, in the house of his Father
many mansions, and happy shall he be that shall have the grace to
dwell even in the lowest.
It seemeth verily by the Gospel, that those, which for God's sake
patiently suffer penury, shall not only dwell above those in heaven,
that live here in plenty in earth, but also that heaven in some manner of
wise more properly belongeth unto them, and is more specially prepared
for them, than it is for the rich, by that, that God in the Gospel
counseleth the rich folk to buy in a manner heaven of them, where he
saith unto the rich man, "Facite vobis amicos de Mammona iniquitatis, ut
cum defeceritis, recipiant vos in aeterna tabernacula" (Make you friends of
the wicked riches, that when you fail here they may receive you
into the everlasting tabernacles).
But now although this be thus, in respect of the riches and the poverty
compared together, yet they being good men both, there may be
some other virtue beside, wherein the rich man may so peradventure
excel, that he may in heaven be far above the poor man that was
here in earth in other virtues far under him, as the proof appeareth
clear in Lazarus and Abraham.
Nor I say not this, to the intent to comfort rich men in heaping up of
riches, for a little comfort is bent enough thereto for them they be not
so proud-hearted and obstinate, but that they would, I ween, to that counsel
be with right little exhortation very conformable. But I say this,

for that those good men, to whom God giveth substance and the
mind to dispose it well, and yet not the mind to give it all away at
once, but for good causes to keep some substance still, should not
despair of God's favor for the not doing of the thing which God
hath given them no commandment of, nor drawn by any special
calling thereunto.
Zacchaeus, lo, that climbed up into the tree for desire that he had to
behold our Savior, at such time as Christ called aloud unto him,
and said, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for this day must I
dwell in thine house," was so glad thereof, and so touched inwardly with
special grace to the profit of his soul, that whereas all the
people murmured much that Christ would call him and be so familiar
with him, as of his own offer to come unto his house, considering that
they knew him for the chief of the publicans, that were customers
or toll-gatherers of the emperor's duties, all which whole company
were among the people sore infamed of raven, extortion, and bribery,
and then Zacchaeus, not only the chief of that fellowship, but also grown
greatly rich, whereby the people accounted him in their own opinion,
for a man very sinful and naught; he forthwith by the instinct of the
Spirit of God, in reproach of all such temerarious bold and blind judgment
given upon a man, whose inward mind and sudden change
they cannot see, shortly proved them all deceived, and that our Lord
had at those few words outwardly spoken to him, so
wrought in his heart within that whatsoever he was before, he was
then unaware unto them all, suddenly waxen good. For he made haste
and came down, and gladly received Christ, and said: "Lo, Lord, the one
half of my goods here I give unto the poor people, and yet over
that, if I have in any thing deceived any man, here am I ready to
recompense him fourfold as much."

This was, Uncle, a gracious hearing: but I marvel me somewhat,
wherefore Zacchaeus used his words in that manner of order. For methinketh,
he should first have spoken of making restitution unto those
whom he had beguiled, and speak of giving his alms after. For
restitution is, you wot well, duty; and a thing of such necessity, that
in respect of restitution, almsdeed is but voluntary. Therefore it
might seem, that to put men in mind of their duty in making restitution
first, and doing their alms after, Zacchaeus should have said more
conveniently, if he had said first, that he would make every man
restitution whom he had wronged, and then give half in alms of that
that remained after: for only that might he call clearly his own.
This is true, Cousin, where a man hath not enough to suffice both.
But he that hath, is not bound to leave his alms ungiven to the
poor man that is at his hand, and peradventure calleth upon
him, till he go seek up all his creditors, and all those that he hath
wronged, so far peradventure asunder, that leaving the one good
deed undone the while, he may before they come together, change
that good mind again, and do neither the one nor the other. It is
good always to be doing some good out of hand, while we think
thereon: grace shall the better stand with us, and increase also to go the
further in the other after. And this I answer, if the man had there
done the one out of hand, the giving (I mean) half in alms, and
not so much as speak of restitution, till after; whereas now, though
he spoke the one in order before the other, and yet all at one time,
the thing remained still in his liberty, to put them both in execution
after such order as he should then think expedient. But now, Cousin,

did the Spirit of God temper the tongue of Zacchaeus in the utterance
of these words, in such wise, as it may well appear the saying of the
wise man to be verified in them, where he saith, "Domini est gubernare
linguam" (To God it belongeth govern the tongue). For here when he said
he would give half of his whole good unto poor people, and yet besides
that, not only recompense any man whom he had wronged, but more
and recompense him by three times as much again; he double reproved
the false suspicion of the people that accounted him for so evil,
that they reckoned in their mind all his good gotten in effect
with wrong, because he was grown to substance in that office that
was commonly misused extortiously. But his words declared, that he
was rife enough in his reckoning, that if half his goods were given
away, yet were he well able to yield every man his duty with the
other half, and yet leave himself no beggar neither: for he said not,
he would give all away.
Would God, Cousin, that every rich Christian man that is reputed right
worshipful, yea and (which yet in my mind more is) reckoned for right
honest too, would and were able to do the thing that little Zacchaeus, that
same great publican (were he Jew, or were he paynim) said! that
is to wit, with less than half his goods recompense every man whom
he had wronged four times as much; yea, yea, Cousin, as much for as much,
hardly, and then they shall receive it, shall be content (I dare promise
for them) to let the other thrice as much go, and forgive it, because it
was one of the hard points of the Old Law, whereas Christian men
must be full of forgiving, and not use to require and exact their amends
to the uttermost. But now for our purpose here, notwithstanding
that he promised not, neither to give away all, nor to become a beggar
neither, no nor yet to leave of his office neither: which albeit that he
had not used before peradventure in every point so pure, as
St. John the Baptist had taught them the lesson, "Nihil amplius, quam constitutum

est vobis, faciatis" (Do no more than is appointed unto you);
yet forasmuch as he might both lawfully use his substance that he
minded to reserve, and lawfully might use his office too, in receiving the
prince's duty according to Christ's express commandment, "Reddite
quae sunt Caesaris, Caesari" (Give the emperor those things that
be his), refusing all extortion and bribery besides, our Lord well allowing
his good purpose, and exacting no further forth of him concerning
his worldly behavior, answered and said, "Hodie salus facta est
huic domui, eo quod et ipse filius sit habrahae" (This day is health come to
this house, for that he too is the son of Abraham).
But now forget I not, Cousin, that in effect thus far you condescend
unto me, that a man may be rich, and yet not out of the state of grace,
nor out of God's favor. Howbeit you think, that though it may be
so in some time, or in some place, yet at this time, and in this place,
or any such other like, wherein be so many poor people, upon whom
they be (you think) bound to bestow their good, they can keep no
riches with conscience.
Verily, Cousin, if that reason would hold, I ween the world was never
such anywhere in which any man might have kept any
substance without the danger of damnation. As for since Christ's
days to the world's end, we have the witness of his own word, that
there hath never lacked poor men, nor never shall. For he said himself,
"Pauperes semper habebitis vobiscum, quibus cum vultis, benefacere
potestis" (Poor men shall you always have with you, whom, when you
will, you may do good unto). So that, as I tell you, if your rule should
hold, then were there, I ween, no place in no time since Christ's days
hitherto, nor (as I think) in as long before that neither, nor never
shall there hereafter, in which there would abide any man rich
without the danger of eternal damnation, even for his riches alone,
though he demeaned it never so well. But, Cousin, men of substance

must there needs be; for else more beggars shall you have, pardie, than there
be, and no man left able to relieve another. For this I think in my
mind a very sure conclusion, that if all the money that is in this
country, were tomorrow next brought together out of every man's
hand, and laid all upon one heap, and then divided out unto every
man alike, it would be on the morrow after worse than it was the day
before. For I suppose when it were all equally thus divided among all,
the best should be left little better then than almost a beggar is now:
and yet he that was a beggar before, all that he shall be the richer for
that he should thereby receive, shall not make him much
above a beggar still, but many one of the rich men, if their riches stood
but in movable substance, shall be safe enough from riches haply
for all their life after.
Men cannot, you wot well, live here in this world, but if that some
one man provide a means of living for some other many. Every man
cannot have a ship of his own, nor every man be a merchant without
a stock: and these things, you wot well, must needs be had; nor
every man cannot have a plough by himself. And who might live
by the tailor's craft, if no man were able to put a gown to make?
Who by the masonry? Or, who could live a carpenter, if no man were
able to build neither church, nor house? Who should be the makers of
any manner cloth, if there lacked men of substance to set sundry sorts
a work? Some man that hath but two ducats in his house, were
better forbear them both and leave himself not a farthing, but utterly
lose all his own, than that some rich man, by whom he is weekly set a
work should of his money lose the one half: for then were himself
like to lack work. For surely the rich man's substance is the wellspring
of the poor man's living. And therefore here would it fare by the
poor man, as it fared by the woman in one of Aesop's fables,

which had an hen that laid her every day a golden egg; till on
a day she thought she would have a great many eggs at once, and
therefore she killed her hen, and found but one or twain in her belly,
so that for a few, she lost many.
But now, Cousin, to come to your doubt, how it may be that a man
may with conscience keep riches with him, when he seeth so many
poor men upon whom he may bestow it; verily that might he not
with conscience do, if he must bestow it upon as many as he may.
And so must of truth every rich man do, if all the poor folk that
he seeth be so specially by God's commandment committed unto
his charge alone, that because our Savior saith, "Omni petenti te, da,"
(Give every man that asketh thee), therefore he be bound to give out
still to every beggar that will ask him, as long as any penny lasteth
in his purse. But verily, Cousin, that saying hath (as St. ------------ saith
other places in scripture hath) need of interpretation. For as Saint Augustine
saith ---------------------------------------------: Though Christ saith,
"Give every man that asketh thee," he saith not yet, give them all that
they will ask thee. But surely all were one, if he meant to bind me by
commandment, to give every man without exception somewhat; for
so should I leave myself nothing.
Our Savior in that place of the sixth chapter of St. Luke, speaketh
both of the contempt that we should in heart have of these worldly
things, and also of the manner that men should use toward their
enemies. For there he biddeth us love our enemies, give good
words for evil, and not only suffer injuries patiently, both by taking
away of our good and harm done unto our body, but also be ready to
suffer the double and over that, to do them good again, that do us the
harm. And among these things, he biddeth us give every man that

asketh, meaning, that in the thing that we may conveniently do a man
good, we should not refuse it, what manner of man soever he be, though
he were our mortal enemy, namely where we see, that but if we
help him ourselves, the person of the man should stand in peril of
perishing. And therefore saith, "Si esurierit inimicus tuus, da illi cibum" (If thine
enemy be in hunger give him meat). But now, though I be bound to
give every manner of man in some manner of his necessity, were he my
friend, or my foe, Christian man, or heathen; yet am I not unto all men
bound alike, nor unto any man in every case alike. But, as I began to
tell you, the differences of the circumstances make great change
in the matter. Saint Paul saith, "Qui non providet suis, est infidelis deterior"
(He that provideth not for those that are his, is worse than an
infidel). Those are ours that are belonging to our charge, either
by nature, or by law, or any commandment of God. By
nature, as our children; by law, as our servants in our household.
So that albeit these two sorts be not ours all alike, yet would I think
that the least ours of the twain, that is to wit, our servants, if they
need or lack, we be bound to look to them, and provide for their
need, and see so far forth as we may, that they lack not the things
that should serve for their necessity, while they dwell in our service.
Meseemeth also, that if they fall sick in our service, so that they cannot do
the service that we retain them for; yet may we not in any wise turn
them then out of doors, and cast them up comfortless while they be
not able to labor and help themselves; for this were a thing against
all humanity. And surely, if he were but a wayfaring man that I
received into my house as a guest, if he fall sick therein, and his money
gone, I reckon myself bound to keep him still, and rather to beg
about for his relief than cast him out in that case to the peril of his
life, what loss soever I should hap to sustain in the keeping of
him. For when God hath by such chance sent him to me, and there

once matched me with him, I reckon myself surely charged with
him, till I may without peril of his life be well and conveniently discharged
of him.
By God's commandment are in our charge, our parents. For by
nature we be in theirs, since (as St. Paul saith) it is not the children's
part to provide for the parents, but the parents' to provide
for the children: provide, I mean, conveniently good learning, or good
occupations to get their living by, with truth and the favor of God,
but not to make provision for them of such manner living, as to
Godward they should live the worse for; but rather if they see by their
manner that too much would make them naught, the father should then
give them a great deal the less. But although that nature put not
the parents in the charge of the children; yet not only God commandeth,
but the order of nature also compelleth, that the children
should both in reverent behavior honor their father and mother,
and also in their necessity maintain them. And yet as much as God
and nature both bindeth us to the sustenance of our own father, his
need may be so little, though it be somewhat, and a fremd man's
so great, that both nature and God also would, I should in such unequal
need, relieve that urgent necessity of a stranger, yea my foe, and God's
enemy too, the very Turk or Saracen, before a little need (and unlikely
to do great harm) in my father, and my mother too: for so ought they
both twain themselves to be well content I should.
But now, Cousin, out of the case of such extreme needs well perceived
and known unto myself, I am not bound to give every beggar that
will ask, nor to believe every faitour that I meet in the street, that
will say himself that he is very sick, nor to reckon all the
poor folk committed by God only so to my charge alone, that none
other man should give them nothing of his, till I have first given out all
mine, nor am not bound neither to have so evil opinion of all
other folk save myself, as to think, that but if I help the poor
folk shall all fail at once; for God hath left in all this quarter no more
good folk now, but me. I may think better by my neighbors, and

worse by myself than so, and yet come to heaven by God's grace well
Marry, Uncle, but some man will peradventure be right well content
in such cases, to think his neighbors very charitable, to the intent that
he may think himself at liberty to give nothing at all.
That is, Cousin, very true, so will there some be content either to
think, or make as though they thought. But those are they that are
content to give naught, because they be naught. But our question is,
Cousin, not of them, but of good folk, that by the keeping of worldly
goods stand in great fear to offend God. For the quieting of their
conscience speak we now to the extent that they may perceive what
manner of having of worldly good and keeping thereof, may stand with
the state of grace. Now think I, Cousin, that if a man keep riches about
him for a glory and royalty of the world, in consideration whereof he
taketh a great delight, and liketh himself therefor the better, taking the poorer
for the lack thereof as one far worse than himself, such a mind is
very vain, foolish pride, and such a man is very naught indeed. But on
the other side, if there be a man such (as would God were
many!) that hath unto riches no love, but having it fall abundantly
unto him, taketh to his own part no great pleasure thereof, but as
though he had it not, keepeth himself in like abstinence and penance
privily, as he would do in case he had it not, and in such
things as he doth openly bestow somewhat more liberally upon
himself in his house after some manner of the world, lest he should
give other folk occasion to marvel and muse and talk of his manner, and
misreport him for an hypocrite, therein between God and him doth
truly protest and testify, as did the good Queen Esther, that he doth it

not for any desire thereof in the satisfying of his own pleasure, but
would with as good will or better, forbear the possession of riches, saving
for the commodity that other men have by his possessing thereof, as
percase in keeping a good household in good Christian order and fashion,
and in setting other folk awork with such things as they gain
their living the better by his means, this man's having of riches I
might (methinketh) in merit match in a manner with another man's
forsaking of all, if there were none other circumstances more pleasant
unto God added further unto the forsaking beside, as percase far the
more fervent contemplation by reason of the solicitude of all worldly
business left off, which was the thing that made Mary Magdalene's
part the better. For else would Christ have canned her much more
thanks, to go about and be busy in helping her sister Martha
to dress his dinner, than to take her stool, and sit down at her ease, and do
Now, if he that have this good and riches by him, have not haply
fully so perfect mind, but somewhat loveth to keep himself from
lack, and not so fully as a pure Christian fashion requireth, determined
to abandon his pleasure; well, what will you more? The man is so
much the less perfect than I would he were, and haply than himself
would wish, if it were as easy to be it, as to wish it. But yet not
by and by in state of damnation, no more than every
man is forthwith in state of damnation, that forsaking all and entering
into religion, is not yet always so clear departed from all worldly affections,
as himself would very fain he were and much bewaileth
that he is not. Of whom some man that hath in the world willingly
forsaken the likelihood of right worshipful rooms, hath afterward
had much ado to keep himself from the desire of the office of cellarer
or sexton, to bear yet at the leastwise some rule and authority, though
it were but among the bells. But God is more merciful to man's

imperfection, if the man know it, and acknowledge it, and mislike it, and little
and little labor to amend it, than to reject and cast to the devil him that
after as his frailty can bear and suffer, hath a general intent and purpose
to please him, and to prefer or set by nothing in all this world
before him. And therefore, Cousin, to make an end of this piece withal;
"A negocio perambulante in tenebris" -- of this devil, I mean, that
the Prophet calleth business walking in the darkness: if a man
have a mind to serve God and please him, and rather lose all the good
he hath than wittingly to do deadly sin, and would withal murmur
or grudge give it every whit away, in case that God should so command
him, and intend to take it patiently, if God would take it from
him, and glad would be to use it unto God's pleasure, and do his diligence
to know and to be taught, what manner using thereof God would be pleased
with; and therein from time to time be glad to follow the counsel of
good virtuous men, though he neither give away all at once nor give
every man that asketh him neither (let every man fear and think
in this world, that all the good that he doth, or can do, is a great deal
too little), but yet for all that fear, let him dwell therewith in the faithful
hope of God's help. And then shall the truth of God so compass
him about (as the Prophet saith) with a pavise, that he shall not so
need to dread the trains and the temptations of the devil that the
Prophet calleth business, walking about in the darknesses, but that he
shall for all the having of riches and worldly substance, so avoid
his trains and his temptations, that he shall in conclusion by the
great grace and almighty mercy of God, get into heaven well enough.
And now was I, Cousin, about lo, after this piece thus ended, to bid them
bring in our dinner, but now shall I not need, lo; for here they come
with it already.
Forsooth, good Uncle, God disposeth and timeth your matter and your
dinner both, I trust. For the end of your tale (for which our Lord

reward you!) and the beginning here of your good dinner too (from
which it were more than pity that you should any longer have tarried)
meet even at the close together.
Well, Cousin, now will we say grace, and then for a while will we
leave talking, and assay how our dinner shall like us, and how fair we
can fall to feeding. Which done, you know my customable guise (for
manner I may not call it, because the guise is unmannerly) to bid you
not farewell, but steal away from you to sleep. But, you wot well, I
am not wont at afternoon to sleep long but even a little to forget the
world. And when I wake I will again come to you, and then is (God
willing) all this long day ours, wherein we shall have time enough, to
talk much more than shall suffice for the finishing of this one part of
our matter, which only now remaineth.
I pray you, good Uncle, keep your customable manner, for manner
may you call it well enough. For as it were against good manner, to
look that a man should kneel down for courtesy, when his knee is sore;
so is it very good manner, that a man of your age, aggrieved with such
sundry sicknesses besides, that suffer you not always to sleep
when you should, let this sleep not slip away, but take it when you
may. And I will, Uncle, in the meanwhile steal from you too, and speed
a little errand, and return to you again.
Tarry while you will, and when you have dined, go at your pleasure,
but I pray you tarry not long.
You shall not need, Uncle, to put me in mind of that; I would so fain
have up the remnant of our matter.

The third book and the last
of consolation and comfort
in tribulation.
Somewhat have I tarried the longer, Uncle, partly for that I was loath
to come over soon, lest my soon coming might have happed to have
made you wake too soon: but especially by the reason that I was letted with
one that showed me a letter dated at Constantinople, by which letter
it appeareth, that the great Turk prepareth a marvelous
mighty army, and yet whether he will therewith, that can there yet
no man tell. But I fear in good faith, Uncle, that his voyage shall be
hither. Howbeit, he that wrote the letter, saith that it is secretly
said in Constantinople, that great part of his army shall be shipped and
sent either into Naples, or into Sicily.
It may fortune, Cousin, that the letter of the Venetian dated at Constantinople,
was devised at Venice. From thence come there some
among, and sometimes from Rome too, and sometimes also from other
places, letters all farced full of such tidings, that the Turk is ready
to do some great exploit. Which tidings they blow about for the
furtherance of some such affairs, as they then have themselves in
The Turk hath also so many men of arms in his retinue at his
continual charge, that lest they should lie still and do nothing, but
peradventure fall in devising of some novelties among themselves,
he is fain yearly to make some assemblies and some changing
of them from one place unto another, and part some sort

asunder, that they wax not over well acquainted by dwelling over
long together.
By these ways also he maketh those that he mindeth suddenly to
invade indeed, the less to look therefor, and thereby the less preparation
to make before, while they see him so many times make a
great visage of war when he mindeth it not; but then at one time
or other they suddenly feel it, when they fear it not.
Howbeit, full likely, Cousin, it is of very truth, that into this realm
of Hungary he will not fail to come. For, neither is there any country
through Christendom, that lieth for him so meet, nor never was
there any time till now, in which he might so well and surely win
For now call we him in ourselves (God save us!) as Aesop telleth, that
the sheep took in the wolf unto them, to keep them from the dogs.
Then are there very like, good Uncle, all those tribulations to fall
upon us here, that I spoke of in the beginning of our first communication
here the other day.
Very truth it is, Cousin, that so there will of likelihood in a while,
but not forthwith all at the first. For while he cometh under the
color of aid for the one against the other, he will somewhat see the
proof, before he fully show himself. But in conclusion, if he be able
to get it for him, you shall see him so handle it, that he shall not fail
to get it from him, and that forthwith out of hand, ere ever he suffer
him settle himself over sure therein.
Yet say they, Uncle, that he useth not to force any man to forsake
his faith.

Not any man, Cousin? They say more than they can make good, that
tell you so. He maketh a solemn oath among the ceremonies of the
feast, in which he first taketh upon him his authority, that he shall,
in all that he possibly may, diminish the faith of Christ, and dilate the
faith of Mahomet. But yet hath he not used to force every whole
country at once to forsake their faith. For of some countries hath
he been content only to take a tribute yearly and let them
then live as they list.
Out of some he taketh the whole people away, dispersing them for
slaves among many sundry countries of his, very far from their own,
without any sufferance of regress.
Some country so great and populous, that they cannot well be
carried and conveyed thence, he destroyeth the gentlemen, and giveth
the lands, part to such as he bringeth, and part to such as willingly
will renay their faith, and keepeth the other in such misery, that they
were in manner as good be dead at once. In rest he suffereth else no
Christian man almost, but those that resort as merchants, or those
that offer themselves to serve him in his war.
But as for those Christian countries, that he useth not for only
tributaries, as he doth Chios, Cyprus, or Candia, but reckoneth for clear
conquest, and utterly taketh for his own, as Morea, Greece, and Macedonia,
and such other like (and as I verily think, he will Hungary, if he get
it), in all those useth he Christian people after sundry fashions. He
letteth them dwell there indeed, because they were too many to carry all
away, and too many to kill them all too; but if he should either leave
the land dispeopled and desolate, or else some other countries of his own,
from whence he should (which would not well be done) convey the people
thither, to people that land withal;
there, lo, those that will not be turned from their faith of which

God keepeth (lauded be his holy name!) very many, he suffereth to dwell
still in peace. But yet is their peace for all that not very peaceable.
For lands he suffereth them to have none of their own; office or
honest room they bear none: with occasions of his wars he pilleth
them with taxes and tollages unto the bare bones, their children he
chooseth where he list in their youth, and taketh them from their parents,
conveying them whither he list, where their friends never see them
after, and abuseth them as he list. Some young maids maketh harlots,
some young men he bringeth up in war, and some young
children he causeth to be gelded, not their stones cut out, as the
custom was of old, but cutteth off their whole members by the body:
how few escape and live, he little forceth; for he will have enough. And
all that he so taketh young to any use of his own, are betaken
to such Turks or false renegades to keep, that they be turned from the
faith of Christ every one, or else so handled, that as for this world
they come to an evil cheving. For beside many other contumelies and
despites that the Turks and the false renegade Christians many times
do to good Christian people that still persevere and abide by the faith;
they find the means sometimes to make some false shrews say, that
they heard such a Christian man speak opprobrious words against
Mahomet, and upon that point falsely testified, will they take
occasion to compel him forsake the faith of Christ, and turn to the
profession of their shameful superstitious sect, or else will they put
him unto death with cruel intolerable torments.
Our Lord, Uncle, for his mighty mercy keep those wretches hence!
For by my troth, if they hap to come hither, methink I see many
more tokens than one, that we shall have of our own folk here ready to

fall in unto them. For like as before a great storm the sea beginneth
sometimes to work and roar in himself, ere ever the wind waxeth
boisterous; so methink I hear at mine ear, some of our own here among
us, which within these few years could no more have
borne the name of a Turk, than the name of the devil, begin now to
find little fault therein, yea and some to praise them too, little and little as
they may, more glad to find fault, at every state of Christendom,
priests, princes, rites, ceremonies, sacraments, laws, and customs,
spiritual, and temporal, and all.
In good faith, Cousin, so begin we to fare here indeed, and that
but even now of late. For since the title of the Crown hath come
in question, the good rule of this realm hath very sore decayed, as
little while as it is. And undoubtedly Hungary shall never do well, as
long as it standeth in this case, that men's minds hearken after novelties,
and have their hearts hanging upon a change. And much the
worse I like it, when their words walk so large toward the favor of
the Turk's sect, which they were ever wont to have in so great abomination,
as every true minded Christian man, and Christian woman
too, must have.
I am of such age as you see, and verily from as far as I can remember,
it hath been marked and oftentimes proved true, that when
children have in Buda fallen in a fantasy by themselves to draw
together, and in their playing make as it were corpses carried to
church, and sing after their childish fashion the tune of the dirge,
there hath great death there shortly followed after. And twice or thrice
I may remember in my days, when children in divers parts of this
realm have gathered themselves in sundry companies, and made, as it
were, parties and battles, and after their battles in sport, wherein some
children have yet taken great hurt, there hath fallen very battle and
deadly war indeed.
These tokens were somewhat like your example of the sea, since they

be (of things that after follow) tokens foregoing through some secret
motion or instinct, whereof the cause is unknown. But by St. Mary!
Cousin, these tokens like I much worse, these tokens, I say, not of
children's plays, nor of children's songs, but old shrews' large open
words, so boldly spoken in the favor of Mahomet's sect, in this
realm of Hungary that hath been ever hitherto a very sure key of
Christendom. And out of doubt, if Hungary be lost, and that the
Turk have it once fast in his possession, he shall ere it be long after
have an open ready way into almost the remnant of all Christendom:
though he win it not all in a week the great part will be
won after, I fear me, within very few years.
But yet evermore I trust in Christ, good Uncle, that he shall not
suffer that abominable sect of his mortal enemies in such wise
to prevail against his Christian country.
That is very well said, Cousin. Let us have our sure hope in him,
and then shall we be very sure, that we shall not be deceived. For
either shall we have the thing that we hope for, or a better thing in
the stead. For as for the thing itself that we pray for, and hope to have,
God will not always send us. And therefore, as I said in our first communication,
in all thing (save only for heaven) our prayer nor our
hope may never be too precise, although the thing be lawful to require.
Verily if we people of the Christian nations were such, as would God
we were! I would little fear all the preparations that the great Turk
could make; no nor yet being as bad as we be, I nothing doubt at
all, but that in conclusion, how base soever Christendom be brought,
it shall spring up again, till the time be come very near to the day
of doom whereof some tokens as methinketh are not come yet.
But somewhat before that time shall Christendom be straited
sore, and brought into so narrow a compass, that according to Christ's
words, "Filius hominis cum venerit putas, inveniet fidem in terra?" (When

the Son of Man shall come again, that is to wit, to the day of general
judgment, weenest thou that he shall find faith in the earth?) As who
say, but a little, For as appeareth in the Apocalypse and other places of scripture,
the faith shall be at that time so far faded, that he shall for the
love of his elects, lest they should fall and perish too, abridge those
days and accelerate his coming.
But, as I say, methinketh I miss yet in my mind some of those
tokens that shall by the scripture come a good while before that.
And among other the coming of the Jews, and the dilating of
Christendom again before the world come to that strait. So that,
I say, for mine own mind, I little doubt, but that this ungracious sect
of Mahomet shall have a foul fall, Christendom spring and
spread, flower and increase again. Howbeit that the pleasure and
the comfort shall they see, that shall be born after that we be buried (I
fear me) both twain. For God giveth us great likelihood, that for our
sinful wretched living, he goeth about to make these infidels,
that are his open professed enemies, the sorrowful scourge of correction
over evil Christian people, that should be faithful, and are of
truth his falsely professed friends. And surely, Cousin, albeit that methinketh
I see divers evil tokens of this misery coming to us, yet can
there not in my mind be a worse prognostication thereof, than this
ungracious token that you note here yourself. For undoubtedly,
Cousin, this new manner here of men's favorable fashion in their
language toward these ungracious Turks, declareth plainly, that
not only their minds giveth them, that hither in shall he come, but
also that they can be content, both to live under him, and over that,
from the true faith of Christ to fall into Mahomet's false abominable

Verily, mine Uncle, as I go more about than you, so must I needs
more hear (which is an heavy hearing in mine ear) the manner of men
in this matter, which increaseth about us here. I trust in other places
of this realm by God's grace it is otherwise. But in this quarter
here about us, many of these fellows that are meet for the war, first
were wont, as it were in sport, and in a while after half between game
and earnest, and by our Lady! now not far from fair flat earnest indeed,
talk as though they looked for a day, when with a turn unto the
Turk's faith they should be made masters here of true
Christian men's bodies, and owners of all their goods.
Though I go little abroad, Cousin, yet hear I sometimes, when I say
little, almost as much as that. But while there is no man to complain
to for the redress, what remedy but patience, and fain to sit still, and
hold my peace? For of these two that strive whether of them both shall
reign upon us, and each of them calleth himself king, and both
twain put the people to pain: the one is, you wot well, too far
from our quarter here to help us in this behalf. And the other while
he looketh for the Turk's aid, either will not, or I ween well dare not
find any fault with them that favor the Turk and his sect. For of
Turks natural this country lacketh none now, which are here
conversant under diverse pretexts, and of everything advertise the
great Turk full surely. And therefore, Cousin, albeit I would advise
every man, pray still and call unto God to hold his gracious hand
over us, and keep away this wretchedness, if his pleasure be: yet would I
further advise every good Christian body to remember and consider,
that it is very likely to come, and therefore make his reckoning: and cast his
pennyworths before, and every man and every woman both appoint
with God's help in their own mind beforehand, what thing they
intend to do, if the very worst fall.

Whether a man should cast in his mind and
appoint in his heart before, that if he were taken
with Turks, he would rather die than forsake the faith.
The First Chapter
Well fare your heart, good Uncle, for this good counsel of yours.
For surely methinketh that this is marvelous good. But yet heard I
once a right cunning and a very good man say, that it were great
folly, and very perilous too, that a man should think upon any such
thing, for fear of double peril that may follow thereupon. For either
shall he be likely to answer himself to that case put by himself,
that he will rather suffer any painful death, than forsake his faith, and
by that bold appointment, should he fall in the fault of Saint Peter
that of oversight made a proud promise, and soon had a foul fall; or
else were he likely to think that rather than abide the pain, he
would forsake God indeed, and by that mind should he sin deadly through
his own folly, whereas he needeth not, as he that shall peradventure
never come in the peril to be put thereunto. And that therefore it were
most wisdom never to think upon any such manner case.
I believe well, Cousin, that you have heard some man that would so
say. For I can show almost as much as that left of a good man
and a great solemn doctor in writing. But yet, Cousin, although I
should hap to find one or two more as good men and as learned too,
that would both twain say and write the same, yet would I not fear
for my part to counsel my friend to the contrary. For, Cousin, if his
mind answer him, as St. Peter answered Christ, that he would rather
die than forsake him, though he say therein more unto himself, than
he should be peradventure able to make good, if it came to the point,

yet perceive I not that he doth in that thought any deadly displeasure
unto God, nor St. Peter, though he said more than he could perform,
yet in his so saying offended not God greatly neither. But his offense
was, when he did not after, so well as he said before. But now may
this man be likely never to fall in the peril of breaking that appointment,
since of some ten thousand that so shall examine themselves,
never one shall fall in the peril, and yet to have that good purpose
all their life, seemeth me no more harm the while, than a poor beggar
that hath never a penny, to think that if he had great substance,
he would give great alms for God's sake.
But now is all the peril, if the man answer himself, that he would
in such case rather forsake the faith of Christ with his mouth, and keep
it still in his heart, than for the confessing of it to endure a
painful death. For by this mind he falleth in deadly sin, while he
never cometh in the case indeed, if he never had put himself the
case, he never had fallen in. But in good faith methinketh, that he\
which upon that case put unto himself by himself, will make
himself that answer, hath the habit of faith so faint and so cold,
that to the better knowledge of himself and of his necessity to pray
for more strength of grace, he had need to have the question put
him, either by himself, or some other man. Besides this, to
counsel a man never to think on that case, is in my mind as much
reason as the medicine that I have heard taught one for the toothache,
to go thrice about a churchyard, and never think on a fox-tail.
For if the counsel be not given them, it cannot serve them; and
if it be given them, it must put the point of the matter in their mind,
which by and by to reject, and think therein neither one thing nor
other, is a thing that may be sooner bidden than obeyed.
I ween also that very few men can escape it, but that though they
would never think thereon by themselves, but that yet in one place or
other, where they shall hap to come in company, they shall have the

question by adventure so proposed and put forth, that like as while he
heareth one talking to him, he may well wink if he will but he
cannot make himself sleep: so shall he, whether he will or no, think
one thing or other therein.
Finally, when Christ spoke so often and so plain of the matter, that
every man should upon pain of damnation, openly confess his
faith, if men took him and by dread of death would drive him
to the contrary; it seemeth me in a manner implied therein, that we be
bound conditionally to have evermore that mind, actually sometimes,
and evermore habitually, that if the case so should fall, then,
(with God's help), so we would. And thus much thinketh me necessary
for every man and woman to be always of this mind, and often
to think thereupon and where they find in the thinking thereon,
their hearts agrise, and shrink in the remembrance of the pain
that their imagination representeth to the mind, then must they
call to mind and remember the great pain and torment that Christ
suffered for them, and heartily pray for grace that if the case should so
fall, God should give them strength to stand. And thus with exercise
of such meditation, though men should never stand full out of fear
of falling, yet must they persevere in good hope, and in full purpose of
standing. And this seemeth me, Cousin, so far forth the mind, that every
Christian man and woman must needs have, that methinketh every
curate should often counsel all his parishioners, and every man and woman,
their servants and their children, even beginning in their tender
youth, to know this point, and think thereon, and little and little from their
very childhood to accustom them dulcely and pleasantly in the meditation
thereof, whereby the goodness of God shall not fail so to aspire
the grace of his Holy Spirit into their hearts in reward of that virtuous
diligence, that through such actual meditation, he shall conserve them
in such a sure habit of spiritual, faithful strength, that all the devils
in hell with all the wrestling that they can make, shall never be able
to wrest it out of their heart.

By my troth, Uncle, methinketh that you say very well.
I say surely, Cousin, as I think. And yet all this have I said, concerning
them that dwell in such places, as they be never like in their
lives to come in the danger to be put to the proof. Howbeit
many a man may ween himself far therefrom, that yet may fortune
by some one chance or other, to fall in the case that either for
the truth of faith, or for the truth of justice (which go almost all
alike) he may fall in the case. But now be you and I, Cousin, and all
our friends here, far in another point. For we be so likely to fall in
the experience thereof so soon, that it had been more time for us (all
other things set aside) to have devised upon this matter, and firmly
to have settled ourselves upon a fast point long ago, than to begin
to commune and counsel upon it now.
In good faith, Uncle, you say therein very truth, and would God it had
come sooner in my mind; but better is it yet late, than never. And I
trust God shall yet give us respite and time, whereof, Uncle, that we
lose no part, I pray you proceed now with your good counsel therein.
Very gladly, Cousin, shall I now go forth in the fourth temptation,
which only remaineth to be treated of, and properly pertaineth whole
unto this present purpose.

Of the fourth temptation, which is persecution for
the faith, touched in these words of the Prophet, "Ab
incursu et demonio meridiano."
The Second Chapter
The fourth temptation, Cousin, that the Prophet speaketh of in the
fore-remembered psalm, "Qui habitat in adiutorio Altissimi" etc. is plain
open persecution, which is touched in these words, "Ab incursu et demonio
meridiano." And of all his temptations this is the most perilous,
the most bitter, sharp, and the most rigorous. For whereas in other
temptations he useth either pleasant allectives unto sin,
or either secret sleights and trains, and cometh in the night and stealeth
on in the dark unaware, or in some other part of the day flieth and
passeth by like an arrow, so shaping himself sometimes in one
fashion, sometimes in another, and so dissimuling himself and his
high mortal malice, that a man is thereby so blinded and beguiled, that
he may not sometimes perceive well what he is. In this temptation,
this plain open persecution for the faith, he cometh even in the
very midday, that is to wit, even upon them that have an high
light of faith shining in their heart, and openly suffereth himself
so plainly be perceived, by his fierce, malicious persecution against
the faithful Christians, for hatred of Christ's true Catholic faith,
that no man having faith can doubt what he is. For in this temptation
he showeth himself such as the Prophet nameth him, "Demonium
meridianum" (the midday devil): he may be so lightsomely seen with
the eye of a faithful soul, by his fierce, furious assault and incursion.
For therefore saith the Prophet, that the truth of God shall compass
that man round about, that dwelleth in the faithful hope of his
help with a pavise, "Ab incursu et demonio meridian," (from the incursion
and the devil of the midday), because this kind of persecution is not
a wily temptation, but a furious force and a terrible incursion. In
other of his temptations he stealeth on like a fox: but in this Turk's

persecution for the faith he runneth on roaring with assault like a
ramping lion.
This temptation is of all temptations also the most perilous. For
whereas in temptations of prosperity, he useth only delectable allectives
to move a man to sin, and in other kinds of tribulation and
adversity he useth only grief and pain to pull a man into murmur,
impatience, and blasphemy: in this kind of persecution for the
faith of Christ he useth both twain, that is to wit, both his
allectives of quiet and rest by deliverance from death and pain, with
other pleasures also of this present life: and besides that, the terror
and infliction of intolerable pain and torment.
In other tribulation, as loss, or sickness, or death of our friends,
though the pain be peradventure as great and sometimes greater too;
yet is not the peril nowhere nigh half so much. For in other tribulations,
as I said before, that necessity that the man must of fine force
abide and endure the pain, wax he never so wroth and impatient therewith,
is a great reason to move him to keep his patience therein, and
be content therewith, and thank God thereof, and of necessity to make a
virtue that he may be rewarded for. But in this temptation, this
persecution for the faith (I mean, not by fight in the field, by which
the faithful man standeth at his defense, and putteth the faithless in
half the fear, and half the harm too), but where he is taken and in hold,
and may for the forswearing or the denying of his faith be delivered and
suffer to live in rest, and some in great worldly wealth also: in this
case, I say, this thing, that he needeth not to suffer this trouble and
pain but he will, is a marvelous great occasion for him, to fall
into the sin that the devil would drive him to, that is to wit, the
forsaking of the faith. And therefore as I say, of all the devil's temptations
is this temptation, this persecution for the faith, the most
The more perilous, Uncle, that this temptation is (as indeed of all

temptations the most perilous it is) the more need have they that
stand in peril thereof, to be before with substantial advice and good
counsel well armed against it, that we may with the comfort and
consolation thereof the better bear that tribulation when it cometh,
and the better withstand the temptation.
You say, Cousin Vincent, therein very truth, and I am content to
fall therefor in hand with it. But forasmuch, Cousin, as methinketh,
that of this tribulation somewhat you be more feared than I, and of
truth somewhat more excusable it is in you, than it were in me, mine
age considered, and the sorrow that I have suffered already with some
other considerations upon my part beside: rehearse you therefore the
griefs and pains that you think in this tribulation possible to fall
unto you: and I shall against each of them give you counsel and
rehearse you such occasion of comfort and consolation as my poor wit
and learning can call unto my mind.
In good faith, Uncle, I am not all thing afeard in this case only for
myself, but well you wot I have cause to care also for many more, and
that folk of sundry sorts, men and women both, and that not all of
one age.
All that you have cause to fear for, Cousin, for all them have I cause
to fear with you too, since all your kinsfolk and allies within a little
be likewise unto me. Howbeit to say the truth, every man hath cause
in this case to fear, both for himself and also for every other. For
since, as the scripture saith, "Unicuique dedit Deus curam de proximo suo" (God
hath given every man cure and charge of his neighbor), there is no man
that hath any spark of Christian love and charity in his breast, but that in
a matter of such peril as this is, wherein the soul of man standeth

in so great danger to be lost, he must needs care and take thought,
not for his friends only, but also for his very foes. We shall therefore,
Cousin, not rehearse your harms or mine that may befall in this persecution,
but all the great harms in general, as near as we can call
to mind, that may hap unto any man.
The Third Chapter
Since a man is made of the body and the soul, all the harm that
any man may take, it must needs be in one of these two; either immediately,
or by the means of some such thing as serveth for the
pleasure, weal, or commodity of the one of these two. As for the
soul, first we shall need no rehearsal of any harm, that by this
kind of tribulation may attain thereto: but if that by some inordinate
love and affection that the soul bear to the body, she consent
to slide from the faith, and thereby do her harm herself.
Now remain there the body, and these outward things of fortune,
which serve for the maintenance of the body, and minister matter
of pleasure to the soul also, through the delight that she hath in the
body, for the while that she is matched therewith.
Consider then first the loss of those outward things, as somewhat
the less in weight, than is the body itself. In them what may a
man lose, and thereby what pain may he suffer?
He may lose, Uncle (of which I should somewhat lose myself), money,
plate, and other movable substance; then offices, authority, and
finally all the lands of his inheritance forever, that himself and
his heirs perpetually might else enjoy. And of all these things,
Uncle, you wot well, that myself have some, little in respect of that
that some other have here, but somewhat more yet, than he that hath
most here would be well content to lose.

Upon the loss of these things follow neediness and poverty, the
pain of lacking, the shame of begging: of which twain I wot
not well which is the most wretched necessity, besides the grief of
heart and heaviness in beholding good men and faithful, and his dear
friends, bewrapped in like misery, and ungracious wretches and
infidels, and his most mortal enemies, enjoy the commodities that himself
and his friends have lost.
Now for the body very few words shall serve us. For therein I see
none other harm but loss of liberty, labor, imprisonment, painful
and shameful death.
There needeth not much more, Cousin, as the world is now. For I fear
me that less than a fourth part of this will make many a man sore
stagger in his faith, and some fall quite therefrom, that yet at this day,
before he come to the proof, weeneth himself that he would stand very
fast. And I beseech our Lord, that all they that so think, and would yet,
when they were brought unto the point, swerve therefrom for fear or
for pain, may get of God the grace to ween still as they do, and not
to be brought to the assay, where pain or fear should show them (as it
showed St. Peter) how far they be deceived now.
But now, Cousin, against these terrible things, what way shall we
take in giving men counsel of comfort? If the faith were in our
days as fervent as it hath been ere this in time before past, little
counsel and little comfort would suffice. We should not much need
with words and reasoning to extenuate and diminish the vigor and asperity
of the pains; but the greater, the more bitter that the passion were,
the more ready was of old time the fervor of faith to suffer it.
And surely, Cousin, I doubt it little in my mind, but that if a man
had in his heart so deep a desire and love, longing to be with God in
heaven, to have the fruition of his glorious face, as had those holy

men that were martyrs in old time, he would no more now
stick at the pain that he must pass between, than at that time
those old holy martyrs did. But alas! our faint and feeble faith with
our love to God, less than lukewarm, by the fiery affection that we
bear to our own filthy flesh, make us so dull in the desire of heaven
that the sudden dread of every bodily pain woundeth us to the
heart, and striketh our devotion dead. And therefore hath there every man,
Cousin (as I said before), much the more need to think upon this
thing many time and often aforehand, ere any such peril fall: and by
much devising thereupon, before they see cause to fear it, while the
thing shall not appear so terrible unto them, reason shall better enter,
and through grace working with their diligence, engender and set sure,
not a sudden slight affection of sufferance for God's sake, but by
a long continuance a strong deep-rooted habit, not like a reed ready to
wave with every wind, nor like a rootless tree, scant up an end in a
loose heap of light sand, that will with a blast or two be blown
The Fourth Chapter
For if we now consider, Cousin, these causes of terror and dread
that you have recited, which in this persecution for the faith this
midday devil may by these Turks rear against us, to make his incursion
with: we shall well perceive, weighing them well with reason,
that albeit somewhat they be indeed, yet every part of the matter
pondered, they shall well appear in conclusion things nothing so
much to be dread and fled from, as to folk at the first sight they do
suddenly seem.

Of the loss of the goods of fortune
The Fifth Chapter
For first to begin at these outward goods, that neither are the
proper goods of the soul, nor of the body, but are called the
goods of fortune, that serve for the sustenance and commodity of man
for the short season of this present life, as worldly substance, offices,
honor, and authority, what great good is there in these things of
themselves, for which they were worthy so much as to bear the
name, by which the world of a worldly favor customably calleth
them? For if the having of strength make a man strong, and the
having of heat make a man hot, and the having of virtue make a
man virtuous: how can those things be verily and truly good, which
he that hath them, may by the having of them as well be the worse
as the better, and (as experience proveth) more often is the worse than
the better? When should a good man greatly rejoice in that, that he
daily seeth most abound in the hands of many that be naught?
Do not now this great Turk and his pashas in all these advancements
of fortune, surmount very far above any Christian estate, and
any lords living under him? And was there not yet hence upon twenty
years, the great sultan of Syria, which many a year together bare as
great a part as the great Turk, and after in one summer unto the
great Turk the whole empire was lost? And so may all his empire
now, and shall hereafter by God's grace be lost into Christian men's
hands likewise, when Christian people shall be mended, and grow into God's
favor again. But when that whole kingdom and mighty great
empires are of so little surety to stand, but be so soon translated
from one man unto another; what great thing can you or I, yea,
or any lord the greatest in this land, reckon himself to have by the

possession of an heap of silver or gold, white and yellow metal, not so
profitable of their own nature (save for a little glistering) as the rude
rusty metal of iron?
Of the unsurety of lands and possessions.
The Sixth Chapter
Lands and possessions many men yet much more esteem than
money, because the lands seem not so casual as money is or plate,
for that though their other substance may be stolen and taken away,
yet evermore they think that their land will lie still where it lay.
But what are we the better, that our land cannot be stirred, but will
lie still where it lay, while ourselves may be removed, and not suffered
to come near it?
What great difference is there to us, whether our substance be
movable or immovable, since we be so movable ourselves, that
we may be removed from them both, and lose them both twain, saving
that sometimes in the money is the surety somewhat more.
For when we be fain ourselves to flee, we may make shift to carry
some of our money with us, where of our land we cannot carry one
If our land be of more surety than our money, how happeth it
then, that in this persecution, we be more feared to lose it? For if it be a
thing of more surety, then can it not so soon be lost.
In the translation of these two great empires, Greece first, since myself
was born, and after, Syria, since you were born too, the land was
lost before the money was found.
Oh! Cousin Vincent, if the whole world were animated with a reasonable
soul, as Plato had weened it were, and that it had wit and understanding
to mark and perceive all thing: Lord God! how the ground, on
which a prince buildeth his palace, would loud laugh his lord to scorn,
when he saw him proud of his possession, and heard him boast himself

that he and his blood are forever the very lords and owners of
that land! For then would the ground think the while in himself:
"Oh, thou silly poor soul, that weenest thou were half a god,
and art amid thy glory but a man in a gay gown: I that am the
ground here, over whom thou art so proud, have had an hundred
such owners of me as thou callest thyself, more than ever thou hast
heard the names of. And some of them that proudly went over my
head, lie now low in my belly, and my side lieth over them: and many
one shall, as thou dost now, call himself mine owner after thee, that
neither shall be sib to thy blood, nor any word hear of thy name.
Who ought your castle, Cousin, three thousand years ago?
Three thousand, Uncle! Nay, nay, in any king Christian, or heathen,
you may strike off a third part of that well enough, and as far as I
ween half of the remnant too. In far fewer years than three thousand it
may well fortune, that a poor ploughman's blood may come up
to a kingdom, and a king's right royal kin on the other side fall
down to the plough and cart: and neither that king know
that ever he came from the cart, nor the carter know that ever he
came from the crown.
We find, Cousin Vincent, in full antique stories, many strange
chances as marvelous as that, come about in the compass of very
few years in effect. And be such things then in reason so greatly to be
set by, that we should esteem the loss at so great, when we see that in
the keeping our surety is so little?

Marry, Uncle, but the less surety that we have to keep it, since it is
a great commodity to have it, the further by so much, and the more
loath we be to forgo it.
That reason shall I, Cousin, turn against yourself. For
if it be so, as you say, that since the things be commodious, the
less surety that you see you have of the keeping, the more cause you
have to be afeard of the losing; then on the other side, the more
that a thing is of his nature such, that the commodity thereof bringeth
a man little surety, and much fear, that thing of reason the less have we
cause to love. And then the less cause that we have to love a thing,
the less cause have we to care therefor, or fear the loss thereof, or be
loath to go therefrom.
These outward goods or gifts of fortune are by
two manner wise to be considered.
The Seventh Chapter
We shall yet, Cousin, consider in these outward goods of fortune,
as riches, good name, honest estimation, honorable fame and authority:
in all these things we shall, I say, consider, that either we
love them and set by them, as things commodious unto us for the state
and condition of this present life, or else as things that we purpose by
the good use thereof to make them matter of our merit with God's
help in the life after to come. Let us then first consider them as
things set by and beloved for the pleasure and commodity of them for
this present life.

The little commodity of riches being set by, but
for this present life.
The Eighth Chapter
Now riches loved and set by for such, if we consider it well, the commodity
that we take there thereof is not so great, as our own fond
affection and fantasy maketh us imagine it. It maketh us, I say not
nay, go much more gay and glorious in sight, garnished in silk, but
cloth is within a little as warm. It maketh us have great plenty of
many kind of delicate and delicious victual, and thereby to make more
excess. But less exquisite, and less superfluous fare, with fewer
surfeits and fewer fevers growing thereon to, were within a little as
wholesome. Then the labor in the getting, the fear in the
keeping, and the pain in the parting from, do more than counterpoise
a great part of all the pleasure and commodity that they bring.
Besides this, that riches is the thing that taketh many times from
his master, all his pleasure and his life too. For many a man is for his
riches slain, and some that keep their riches as a thing pleasant
and commodious for their life, take none other pleasure in a manner
thereof in all their life, than as though they bore the key of another
man's coffer, and rather are content to live in neediness miserably all their
days, than they could find in their heart to diminish their hoard, they
have such fantasy to look thereon. Yea and some men for fear lest thieves
should steal it from them, be their own thieves and steal it from themselves,
while they dare not so much as let it lie where themselves may look
thereon, but put it in a pot, and hide it in the ground, and there let it lie
safe till they die, and sometimes seven year after. From which place
if the pot had been stolen away five year before his death, all the same
five year that he lived after, weening always that his pot lay safe still,
what had he been the poorer, while he never occupied it after?

By my troth, Uncle, not one penny, for aught that I perceive.
The little commodity of fame being desired but
for worldly pleasures.
The Ninth Chapter
Let us now consider good name, honest estimation, and honorable
fame. For these three things are of their own nature one, and take
their difference, in effect, but of the manner of the common speech in diversity
of degrees. For a good name may a man have, be he never so
poor. Honest estimation in the common taking of the people belongeth
not unto any man but him that is taken for one of some countenance
and behavior, and among his neighbors had in some reputation.
In the word of honorable fame, folk conceive the renown of great
estates, much and far spoken of by reason of their laudable acts.
Now all this gear used as a thing pleasant and commodious for this
present life, pleasant it may seem to him that fasteneth his fantasy
therein, but of the nature of the thing itself, I perceive no great
commodity that it hath. I say, of the nature of the thing itself; because
it may be by chance some occasion of commodity, as if it hap
that for the good name the poor man hath, or for the honest estimation
that a man of some behavior and substance standeth in among his
neighbors, or for the honorable fame wherewith the great estate
is renowned, if it hap, I say, that any man bearing them better,
will therefore do them therefor any good. And yet as for that, like as
it may sometimes so hap (and sometimes so happeth indeed) so may
it hap sometimes on the other side (and on the other side so it sometimes

happeth indeed) that such folk are of some other envied and
hated, and as readily by them that envy them and hate them take harm,
as they take by them that love them, good.
But now to speak of the thing itself in his own proper nature, what
is it but a blast of another man's mouth, as soon passed, as spoken?
Whereupon he that setteth his delight, feedeth himself but with wind,
whereof be he never so full, he hath little substance therein: and many
times shall he much deceive himself. For he shall ween that many
praise him, that never speak word of him, and they that do, say it
much less than he weeneth, and far more seldom too. For they spend not
all the day, he may be sure, in talking of him alone, and
whoso commend him most, will yet, I ween, in every four and twenty
hours, wink and forget him once. Besides this, that while one talketh
well of him in one place, another sitteth and saith as shrewdly of
him in another; and finally some that most praise him in his
presence, behind his back mock him as fast, and loud laugh him to
scorn, and sometimes slyly to his own face too. And yet are there some
fools so fed with this fond fantasy of fame, that they rejoice and glory
to think how they be continually praised all about, as though all
the world did nothing else day nor night but ever sit and sing, "Sanctus,
sanctus, sanctus" upon them.
Of flattery.
The Tenth Chapter
And into this pleasant frenzy of much foolish vainglory, be there
some men brought sometimes by such as themselves do in a manner hire
to flatter them; and would not be content if a man should do otherwise,
but would be right angry, not only if a man told them truth when
they do naught indeed, but also if they praise it but slenderly.
Forsooth, Uncle, this is very truth. I have been ere this, and not very

long ago, where I saw so proper experience of this point, that I must
stop your tale for so long, while I tell you mine.
I pray you, Cousin, tell on.
When I was first in Almaine, Uncle, it happed me to be somewhat
favored with a great man of the church, and a great state, one of the
greatest in all that country there. And indeed whosoever might spend
as much as he might in one thing and other, were a right great estate in
any country of Christendom. But glorious was he very
far above all measure, and that was great pity, for it did harm, and
made him abuse many great gifts that God had given him. Never
was he satiate of hearing his own praise.
So happed it one day, that he had in a great audience, made an
oration in a certain manner, wherein he liked himself so well, that
at his dinner he sat him thought on thorns, till he might hear how
they that sat with him at his board, would commend it. And when
he had sat musing a while, devising (as I thought after) upon some
pretty proper way, to bring it in withal; at last, for lack of a better
(lest he should have letted the matter too long) he brought it even bluntly
forth, and asked us all that sat at his board's end (for at his own
mess in the midst there sat but himself alone), how well we liked
his oration that he had made that day. But in faith, Uncle, when
that problem was once proposed, till it was full answered, no man
I ween eat one morsel of meat more: every man was fallen in so
deep a study, for the finding of some exquisite praise. For he that
should have brought out but a vulgar and common commendation,
would have thought himself shamed forever. Then said we our
sentences by row as we sat, from the lowest unto the highest in good
order, as it had been a great matter of the common weal in a right

solemn council. When it came to my part (I will not say it, Uncle,
for no boast), methought, by our Lady! for my part I quit myself
meetly well. And I liked myself the better, because methought my
words (being but a stranger) went yet with some grace in the Almain
tongue, wherein, letting my Latin alone, me listed to show my
cunning. And I hoped to be liked the better, because I saw that he
that sat next me, and should say his sentence after me, was an unlearned
priest: for he could speak no Latin at all. But when he came forth
for his part with my lord's commendation, the wily fox had been so
well accustomed in court with the craft of flattery, that he went beyond
me too, too far. And then might I see by him, what excellence a
right mean wit may come to in one craft, that in all his whole life
studieth and busieth his wit about no more but that one. But I made after
a solemn vow to myself, that if ever he and I were matched together
at that board again, when we should fall to our flattery I would flatter
in Latin, that he should not contend with me no more. For though
I could be content to be outrun of an horse, yet would I no more
abide it to be outrun of an ass. But, Uncle, here began now the
game: he that sat highest, and was to speak last, was a great beneficed
man, and not a doctor only, but also somewhat learned indeed in
the laws of the Church. A world it was to see, how he marked every
man's word that spoke before him, and it seemed that every word,
the more proper that it was the worse he liked it, for the cumbrance
that he had to study out a better to pass it. The man even sweat
with the labor, so that he was fain in the while now and then to
wipe his face. Howbeit in conclusion, when it came to his course, we
that had spoken before him, had so taken up all among us before,
that we had not left him one wise word to speak after.
Alas! good man, among so many of you, some good fellow should
have lent him one.

It needed not, as hap was, Uncle, for he found out such a shift,
that in his flattering he passed us all the many.
Why, what said he, Cousin?
By our Lady! Uncle, not one word. But like, as I trow, Pliny telleth,
that when Timanthes, the painter, in the table that he painted of the
sacrifice and the death of Iphigenia, had in the making of the sorrowful
countenances of the other noblemen of Greece that beheld it, spent
out so much his craft and his cunning, that when he came to make
the countenance of King Agamemnon, her father, which he reserved
for the last, lest if he had made his visage before, he must in some of
the other after, either have made the visage less dolorous than he
could, and thereby have forborne some part of his praise, or doing
the uttermost of his craft, might have happed to make some other
look more heavily for the pity of her pain than her own father, which
had been yet a far greater fault in his painting, when he came, I
say, to the making of his face therefore last of all, he could devise no
manner of new heavy cheer or countenance for her father, but that he
had made there already in some of the other a much more heavy
before, and therefore to the intent that no man should see what manner
countenance it was that her father had, the painter was fain to
paint him, holding his face in his handkerchief.
The like pageant in a manner played us there this good ancient
honorable flatterer. For when he saw that he could find no
words of praise that would pass all that had been spoken before already,
the wily fox would speak never a word, but as he that were ravished
unto heavenward with the wonder of the wisdom and eloquence

that my lord's grace had uttered in that oration, he fetched a long sigh with
an oh! from the bottom of his breast, and held up both his hands, and lift
up his head, and cast up his eyes into the welkin, and wept.
Forsooth, Cousin, he played his part very properly.
But was that great prelate's oration, Cousin, anything praiseworthy?
For you can tell, I see, well. For you would not, I ween, play as Juvenal
merrily describeth the blind senator, one of the flatterers of Tiberius
the emperor, that among the remnant so magnified the great
fish that the emperor had sent for them to show them, which this
blind senator (Montanus, I trow, they called him), marveled of as much
as any that marveled most: and many things he spoke thereof, with
some of his words directed thereunto, looking himself toward his left
side, while the fish lay on his right side: you would not, I trow, Cousin,
have taken upon you to praise it so, but if you had heard it.
I heard it, Uncle, indeed, and to say the truth it was not to dispraise.
Howbeit surely somewhat less praise might have served it, by more a
great deal than the half. But this am I sure, had it been the worst
that ever was made, the praise had not been the less of one here.
For they that used to praise him to his face, never considered how
much the thing deserved, but how great a laud and praise
themselves could give his good grace.
Surely, Cousin, as Terence saith, such folks make men of fools even
stark mad, and much cause have their lords to be right angry with

God hath indeed, and is, I ween: but as for their lords, Uncle, if
they would after wax angry with them therefor, they should in my mind
do them very great wrong, when it is one of the things that they
specially keep them for. For those that are of such vainglorious
mind (be they lords, or be they meaner men) can be much better
content to have their devices commended, then amended; and require
they their servants and their friend never so specially to tell
them the very truth, yet shall they better please them if he speak
them fair, than if he telleth them truth. For they be in the case that
Martial speaketh of, in an epigram unto a friend of his that required
his judgment, how he liked his verses, but he prayed him in any wise,
to tell him even the very truth. To whom Martial made answer in
this wise:
"The very truth of me thou dost require.
The very truth is this, my friend dear,
The very truth thou wouldst not gladly hear."
And in good faith, Uncle, the selfsame prelate that I told you my
tale of, I dare be bold to swear it (I know it so surely) had on a time
made of his own drawing a certain treaty, that should serve for a
league between that country and a great prince. In which treaty, himself
thought that he had devised his articles so wisely, and indited them
so well, that all the world would allow them. Whereupon
longing sore to be praised, he called unto him a friend of his, a man
well-learned, and of good worship, and very well expert in those matters, as
he that had been divers times ambassador for that country, and had
made many such treaties himself. When he took him the treaty,
and that he had read it, he asked him how he liked it, and said: "But
I pray you heartily tell me the very truth." And that he spoke so
heartily, that the other had weened he would fain have heard the

truth, and in trust thereof he told him a fault therein. At the hearing
whereof, he swore in great anger, "By the Mass! thou art a very fool."
The other afterward told me, that he would never tell him truth
Without question, Cousin, I cannot greatly blame him: and thus
themselves make every man mock them, flatter them, and deceive them:
those, I say, that are of such vainglorious mind. For if they be
content to hear the truth, let them then make much of them that tell
them the truth, and withdraw their care from them that falsely flatter
them, and they shall be more truly served than with twenty requests,
praying men to tell them true.
King Ladislaus, our Lord assoil his soul, used much this manner
among his servants. When one of them praised any deed of his,
or any condition in him, if he perceived that they said but the truth,
he would let it pass by uncontrolled. But when he saw that they set
a gloss upon it for his praise of their own making beside, then would
he shortly say unto them: "I pray thee, good fellow, when thou say grace
at my board, never bring in Gloria Patri without a sicut erat; any
act that ever I did, if thou report it again to mine honor with a
Gloria Patri, never report it, but with a sicut erat, that is to wit,
even as it was, and none otherwise: and lift me not up with no lies,
for I love it not."
If men would use this way with them, that this noble king used, it
would diminish much of their false flattery. I can well allow, that men
should commend (keeping them within the bounds of truth) such
things as they see praiseworthy in other men, to give them the
greater courage to the increase thereof. For men keep still in that
point one condition of children, that praise must prick them

forth; but better it were to do well, and look for none. Howbeit, they
that cannot find in their heart to commend another man's good deed,
show themselves either envious, or else of nature very cold and dull.
But out of question, he that putteth his pleasure in the praise of the
people hath but a fond fantasy. For if his finger do but ache of an
hot blain, a great many men's mouths blowing out his praise,
will scantly do him among them all half so much ease, as to have
one boy blow upon his finger.
The little commodity that men have of rooms, offices,
and authority, if they desire them but for their
worldly commodity.
The Eleventh Chapter
Let us now consider in like wise, what great worldly wealth ariseth
unto men by great offices, rooms, and authority: to those worldly-disposed
people, I say that desire them for no better purpose. For
of them that desire them for better, we shall speak after anon.
The great thing that they chief like all therein, is that they may
bear a rule, command and control other men, and live uncommanded
and uncontrolled themselves. And yet this commodity took I so little
heed of, that I never was aware it was so great, till a good friend
of ours merrily told me once, that his wife once in a great
anger taught it him. For when her husband had no list to grow
greatly upward in the world, nor neither would labor for office of
authority, and over that forsook a right worshipful room when it
was offered him, she fell in hand with him (he told me) and all
to rated him, and asked him; "What will you do, that you list not to
put forth yourself, as other folks do? Will you sit still by the fire, and
make goslings in the ashes with a stick, as children do? Would God

I were a man, and look what I would do!" "Why, wife," quoth her husband,
"what would you do?" "What? By God! go forward with the best. For, as
my mother was wont to say (God have mercy on her soul!) it is evermore
better to rule, than to be ruled. And therefore by God! I would not,
I warrant you, be so foolish to be ruled where I might rule." "By my
troth, wife," quoth her husband, "in this, I dare say, you say truth. For
I never found you willing to be ruled yet."
Well, Uncle, I wot where you be now well enough. She is indeed a
stout master woman: and in good faith for aught that I can see,
even that same womanish mind of hers is the greatest commodity
that men reckon upon, in rooms and offices of authority.
By my troth and methinketh very few there are of them that
attain any great commodity therein. For first there is in every kingdom
but one that can have an office of such authority, that no man
may command him or control him. No officer can there stand in
that case, but the king himself, which only uncontrolled or uncommanded,
may control and command all. Now of all the
remnant, each is under him: and yet beside him almost everyone
is under more commanders and controllers too, than one. And some
man that is in a great office, commandeth fewer things and less
labor to many men that are under him, than someone, that is
over him, commandeth him alone.
Yet it doth them good, Uncle, that men must make courtesy to them,
and salute them with reverence, and stand barehead before them, or unto
some of them kneel peradventure too.

Well, Cousin, in some part they do but play at gleek, receive reverence,
and to their cost pay honor again therefor. For except, as I said,
only a king, the greatest in authority under him, receiveth not so
much reverence of no man, as according to reason himself doth
honor to him. Nor twenty men's courtesies do him not so much pleasure
as his own once kneeling doth him pain, if his knee hap to be sore.
And I wist once a great officer of the king's say (and in good faith,
I ween, he said but as he thought) that twenty men standing barehead
before him, kept not his head half so warm, as to keep on his own
cap. Nor he took never so much ease with their being barehead
before him, as he caught once grief with a cough that came upon
him, by standing barehead long before the king.
But let it be, that these commodities be somewhat such as they be,
yet then consider whether that any incommodities be so joined therewith,
that a man were almost as good lack both, as have both.
Goeth all thing evermore as every one of them would have it? That
were as hard as to please all the people at once with one
weather, while in one house the husband would have fair weather for
his corn, and his wife would have rain for her leeks. So while they
that are in authority be not all evermore of one mind, but sometimes
variance among them, either for the respect of profit, or for contention
of rule, or for maintenance of matters, sundry parts for their
sundry friends: it cannot be that both the parties can have their
own mind, nor often are they content which see their conclusion
quail, but ten times they take the missing of their mind more displeasantly
than other poor men do. And this goeth not only to men
of mean authority, but unto the very greatest. The princes themselves
cannot have, you wot well, all their will. For how were it possible,
while each of them almost would, if he might, be lord over all the
remnant? Then many men under their princes in authority are
in that case, that privy malice and envy many bear them in heart, falsely
speak them full fair, and praise them with their mouth, which when

there happeth any great fall unto them, bawl, and bark, and bite upon
them like dogs.
Finally, the cost and charge, the danger and peril of war, wherein
their part is more than a poor man's is, since the matter more dependeth
upon them, and many a poor ploughman may sit still by the fire,
while they must arise and walk. And sometimes their authority falleth
by change of their master's mind: and of that see we daily in one
place or other examples such, and so many, that the parable of the
philosopher can lack no testimony, which likened the servants
of great princes unto the counters with which men do cast a
count. For like as that counter that standeth sometimes for a farthing,
is suddenly set up and standeth for a thousand pounds, and
after as soon set down, and eftsoons beneath to stand for a farthing again:
so fareth it, lo, sometimes with those that seek the way to rise and grow
up in authority, by the favor of great princes, that as they rise up
high, so fall they down again as low.
Howbeit, though a man escape all such adventures, and abide in
great authority till he die, yet then at the leastwise every man must
leave it at the last: and that which we call at last, hath no very long
time to it. Let a man reckon his years that are passed of his age, ere
ever he can get up aloft; and let him when he have it first in his
fist, reckon how long he shall be like to live after, and I ween, that then
the most part shall have little cause to rejoice, they shall see the
time likely to be so short that their honor and authority by nature
shall endure, besides the manifold chances whereby they may lose it
more soon. And then when they see that they must needs leave it,
the thing which they did much more set their heart upon, than ever
they had reasonable cause: what sorrow they take therefor, that shall I
not need to tell you. And thus it seemeth unto me, Cousin, in good faith,
that since in the having the profit is not great, and the displeasures neither
small nor few, and of the losing so many sundry chances, and
that by no means a man can keep it long, and that to part therefrom

is such a painful grief: I can see no very great cause, for which,
as an high worldly commodity, men should greatly desire it.
That these outward goods desired but for worldly
wealth, be not only little good for the body, but are
also much harm for the soul.
The Twelfth Chapter
And thus far have we considered hitherto, in these outward
goods that are called the gifts of fortune, no farther but the
slender commodity that worldly-minded men have by them. But now
if we consider further what harm to the soul they take by them
that desire them but only for the wretched wealth of this world:
then shall we well perceive, how far more happy is he that well loseth
them, than he that evil findeth them.
These things though they be such, as are of their own nature indifferent,
that is to wit, of themselves, things neither good nor bad, but
are matter that may serve to the one or the other, after as men will
use them: yet need we little to doubt it, but that they that desire them
but for their worldly pleasure, and for no further godly purpose, the
devil shall soon turn them from things indifferent unto them, and
make them things very naught. For though that they be indifferent
of their nature, yet cannot the use of them lightly stand indifferent,
but determinately must either be good or bad. And therefore he that
desireth them but for worldly pleasure, desireth them not for any
good. And for better purpose than he desireth them, to better use is
he not likely to put them: and therefore not unto good, but consequently
to naught.
As for example, first consider it in riches: he that longeth for them,
as for thing of temporal commodity, and not for any godly purpose,
what good they shall do him St. Paul declareth, where he writeth unto
Timothy: "Qui volunt divites fieri, incidunt in tentationem, et in laqueum

diaboli, et desideria multa inutilia et noxia, quae mergunt homines in interitum
et perditionem" (They that long to be rich, fall into temptation,
and into the grin of the devil, and into many desires unprofitable
and noyous, which drown men into death and into perdition). And
the holy scripture saith also in the twentieth chapter of the Proverbs:
"Qui congregat thesauros, impingetur ad laqueos mortis" (He that gathereth
treasures, shall be shoved into the grin of death). So that whereas by
the mouth of St. Paul God saith, that they shall fall into the devil's
grin, he saith in the other place, that they shall be pushed and
shoved in by violence. And of truth, while a man desireth riches
not for any good godly purpose, but for only worldly wealth, it must
needs be, that he shall have little conscience in the getting, but by
all evil ways that he can invent, shall labor to get them. And then
shall he either niggardly heap them up together, which is (you wot
well) damnable, or wastefully misspend them about worldly pomp,
pride, and gluttony, with occasion of many sins more, and that is yet
much more damnable.
As for fame and glory desired but for worldly pleasure, doth unto
the soul inestimable harm. For that setteth men's hearts upon high
devices and desires of such things as are immoderate and outrageous,
and by the help of false flatteries puff up a man in pride, and make a
brittle man lately made of earth, and that shall again shortly be laid
full low in earth, and there lie and rot, and turn again into earth, take
himself in the meantime for a god here upon earth, and ween to
win himself to be lord of all the earth.
This maketh battles between these great princes, and with much
trouble to much people and great effusion of blood, one
king to look to reign in five realms, that cannot well rule one. For
how many hath now this great Turk, and yet aspireth to more? And
those that he hath, he ordereth evil, and yet himself worse.
These offices and rooms of authority, if men desire them only for

their worldly fantasies, who can look that ever they shall occupy
them well, but abuse their authority, and do thereby great hurt? For
then shall they fall from indifference, and maintain false matters of
their friends, bear up their servants and such as depend upon
them, with bearing down of other innocent folk, and not so able to do
hurt, as easy to take harm. Then the laws that are made against malefactors
shall they make as an old philosopher said, to be much like
unto cobwebs, in which the little gnats and flies stick still and hang
fast, but the great humble bees break them and fly quite through.
And then the laws that are made as a buckler in the defense of
innocents, those shall they make serve for a sword to cut and sore
wound them with, and therewith wound they their own souls sorer.
And thus you see, Cousin, that of all this outward goods, which men
call the goods of fortune, there is never one that unto them which
long therefor, not for any godly purpose but only for their worldly
wealth, hath any great commodity to the body, and yet are they all in
such case (besides that) very deadly destruction unto the soul.
Whether men desire these outward goods for their
own worldly wealth, or for any good virtuous purpose,
this persecution of the Turk against the faith will
declare, and the comfort that both twain may take
in the losing them thus.
The Thirteenth Chapter
Verily, good Uncle, this thing is so plainly true, that no man may by
any good reason deny it, but I ween, Uncle, also, that there

will no man say nay. For I see no man that will for very shame confess,
that he desireth riches, honor, and renown, offices and rooms
of authority, for his own worldly pleasure. For every man would
fain seem as holy as an horse. And therefore will every man say, and would
it were believed too, that he desireth these things (though for his
own worldly wealth a little so) yet principally to merit thereby through
doing some good therewith.
This is, Cousin, very sure so, that so doth every say. But first he that
in the desire thereof hath his respect therein unto his worldly wealth
(as you say) but a little so, so much (as himself weeneth were but a
little) may soon prove a great deal too much. And many men will
say so too, that have indeed their principal respect therein unto their
worldly commodity, and unto Godward therein little or nothing at all. And
yet they pretend the contrary, and that unto their own harm, "Quia
Deus non irridetur" (God cannot be mocked).
And some peradventure know not well their own affection themselves,
but there lieth more imperfection secret in their affection than
themselves are well aware of, which only God beholdeth. And therefore
saith the Prophet unto God, "Inperfectum meum viderunt oculi tui" (Mine
imperfection have thine eyes beheld). For which the Prophet prayeth,
"Ab occultis meis munda me, Domine" (From mine hid sins cleanse thou
me, good Lord).
But now, Cousin, this tribulation of the Turk, if he so persecute us
for the faith, that those that will forsake their faith shall keep their
goods, and those shall lose their goods that will not leave their faith:
this manner of persecution, lo, shall like a touchstone try
them, and show the feigned from the true minded, and teach also them, that
ween they mean better than they do indeed, better to discern themselves.

For some there are that ween they mean well, while they frame
themselves a conscience, and ever keep still a great heap of superfluous
substance by them, thinking ever still that they will bethink
themselves upon some good deed, whereon they will well bestow it
once, or else their executors shall. But now if they lie not
unto themselves, but keep their goods for any good purpose to the
pleasure of God indeed, then shall they in this persecution for the
pleasure of God, in keeping of his faith, be glad to depart from them,
And therefore as for all these things, the loss, I mean, of all these outward
things that men call the gifts of fortune, this is methinketh in
this Turk's persecution for the faith, consolation great and sufficient,
that since every man that hath them, either setteth by them for the
world or for God: he that setteth by them for the world hath (as I have
showed you) little profit by them to the body, and great harm unto the
soul; and therefore may well, if he be wise, reckon that he winneth by
the loss, although he lost them but by some common chance; and
much more happy then, while he loseth them by such a meritorious
means. And on the other side, he that keepeth them for some good
purpose, intending to bestow them for the pleasure of God, the loss
of them in this Turk's persecution for keeping of the faith, can be no
manner grief unto him; since that by his so parting from them, he bestoweth
them in such wise unto God's pleasure, that at the
time when he loseth them, by no way could he bestow them unto
his high pleasure better. For though it had been peradventure better
to have bestowed them well before, yet since he kept them for some
good purpose, he would not have left them unbestowed if he had foreknown
the chance. But being now prevented so by persecution, that
he cannot bestow them in that other good way that he would, yet
while he parteth from them because he will not part from the faith,
though the devil's escheator violently take them from him, yet
willingly he giveth them to God.

Another cause, for which any man should be content
to forgo his goods in the Turk's said persecution.
The Fourteenth Chapter
I cannot in good faith, good Uncle, say nay to none of this. And indeed
unto them that by the Turk's overrunning of the country were
happed to be spoiled and robbed, and all their substance, movable and
unmovable, bereft and lost already, their persons only fled and safe:
I think that these considerations (considered therewith that, as you
lately said, their sorrow could not amend their chance) might unto
them be good occasion of comfort, and cause them, as you said, make
a virtue of necessity. But in the case, Uncle, that we now speak of,
that is to wit, where they have yet their substance untouched in their
own hands, and that the keeping or the losing shall hang both in
their own hands by the Turk's offer upon the retaining or the
renouncing of the Christian faith: here, Uncle, I find it, as you said, that
this temptation is most sore and most perilous. For I fear me
that we shall find few (of such as have much to lose) that shall find in
their hearts so suddenly to forsake their good with all those other
things fore-rehearsed, whereupon their worldly wealth dependeth.
That fear I much, Cousin, too. But thereby shall it well, as I said, appear,
that seemed they never so good and virtuous before, and flattered they
themselves with never so gay a gloss of good and gracious purpose
that they keep their good for, yet were their hearts inwardly in
the deep sight of God, not sound and sure, such as they should be, and as
peradventure some had themselves weened they had been, but like a puff
ring of Paris, hollow, light, and counterfeit indeed.

And yet they being even such, this would I fain ask one of them,
and I pray you, Cousin, take you his person upon you, and in this case
answer for him; what letteth you, would I ask (for we will take no
small man for an example in this part, nor him that had little to lose,
for such one were methink so far from all frame, that would cast
away God for a little, that he were not worthy to talk with), what
letteth I say therefore, Your Lordship, that you be not gladly content,
without any deliberation at all, in this kind of persecution, rather
than to leave your faith, to let go all that ever you have at once?
Since you put it, Uncle, unto me: to make the matter more plain,
that I should play that great man's part that is so wealthy, and have so
much to lose; albeit I cannot be very sure of another man's
mind, nor what another man would say, yet as far as mine own mind
can conjecture, I shall answer in his person what I ween would be
his let.
And therefore to your question I answer, that there letteth me the
thing that yourself may lightly guess, the losing of the manifold
commodities which I now have: riches and substance, lands
and great possessions of inheritance, with great rule and authority
here in my country. All which things the great Turk granteth
me to keep still in peace, and have them enhanced too, so that I
will forsake the faith of Christ. Yea, I may say to you, I have a
motion secretly made me further, to keep all this yet better cheap,
that is to wit, not be compelled utterly to forsake Christ, nor all the
whole Christian faith, but only some such parts thereof, as may not
stand with Mahomet's law, and only granting Mahomet for a
true prophet, and serving the Turk truly in his wars against all
Christian kings, I shall not be letted to praise Christ also, and to call
him a good man, and worship him and serve him too.

Nay, nay, my lord, Christ hath not so great need of Your Lordship,
as rather than to lose your service, he would fall at such covenants
with you, to take your service at halves, to serve him and his
enemy both. He hath given you plain warning already by St. Paul,
that he will have in your service no parting fellow. "Quae societas luci
ad tenebras? Christi ad Belial?" (What fellowship is there between light and
darkness, between Christ and Belial?) And he hath also plainly showed
you himself by his own mouth: "Nemo potest duobus dominis servire"
(No man may serve two lords at once). He will have you believe
all that he telleth you, and do all that he biddeth you, and forbear all
that he forbiddeth you, without any manner exception. Break one
of his commandments, and break all. Forsake one point of his faith,
and forsake all, as for any thanks you get for the remnant.
And therefore if you devise as it were indentures between God and you,
what thing you will do for him, and what thing you will not do, as
though he should hold him content with such service of yours, as yourself
list to appoint him: if you make, I say, such indentures, you shall
seal both the parts yourself, and you get thereto none agreement
of him.
And this I say though the Turk would make such an appointment
with you as you speak of, and would when he had made it, keep it, whereas
he would not, I warrant you, leave you so, when he had once brought
you so far forth, but would little and little after ere he left you, make you
deny Christ altogether, and take Mahomet in his stead. And so doth
he in the beginning, when he will not have you believe him to
be God. For surely if he were not God, he were no good man
neither, while he plainly said he was God.
But though he would never go so far forth with you, yet Christ will
(as I said) not take your service to halves, but will that you shall
love him with all your whole heart. And because that while he was
living here fifteen hundred year ago, he foresaw this mind of yours that you

have now, with which you would fain serve him in some such fashion,
as you might keep your worldly substance still, but rather forsake
his service, than put all your substance from you: he telleth you
plain fifteen hundred year ago his own mouth, that he will no such
service of you, saying, "Non potestis servire Deo, et Mammone" (You cannot
serve both God and your riches together). And therefore this thing
established for a plain conclusion, which you must needs grant, if
you have faith (and if you be gone from that ground of faith already
then is all our disputation, you wot well, at an end. For whereto
should you then rather lose your goods than forsake your faith, if
you have lost your faith and let it go already?) this point, I say therefore,
put first for a ground between us both twain agreed, that you
have yet the faith still, and intend to keep it always still in your
heart, and are but in doubt, whether you will lose all your worldly
substance rather than forsake your faith in your only word: now
shall I reply to the point of your answer, wherein you tell me the
loathness of your loss, and the comfort of the keeping letteth you to
forgo them, and moveth you rather to forsake your faith.
I let pass all that I have spoken of the small commodity of them
unto your body, and of the great harm that the having of them do to
your soul. And since the promise of the Turk, made unto you for
the keeping of them, is the thing that moveth you and maketh you thus
to doubt, I ask you first, whereby you wot that when, you have done
all that he will have you do against Christ to the harm of your soul,
whereby wot you, I say, that he will keep you his promise in these
things that he promiseth you, concerning the retaining of your
well-beloved worldly wealth for the pleasure of your body?
What surety can a man have of such a great prince but his promise,
which for his own honor it cannot become him to break?

I have known him, and his father before him too, break more promises
than five, as great as this is that he should make with you. Who shall
come and cast it in his teeth, and tell him it is a shame for him to be so fickle
and so false of his promise? And then what careth he for those words,
that he wotteth well he shall never hear? Not very much, although they
were told him to. If you might come after and complain your grief
unto his own person yourself, you should find him as shamefast as a
friend of mine (a merchant) found once the sultan of Syria, to whom
(being certain years about his merchandise in that country) he
gave a great sum of money for a certain office meet for him there
for the while, which he scant had him granted and put in his hand,
but that ere ever it was aught worth unto him the sultan suddenly
sold it to another of his own sect, and put our Hungarian out. Then
came he to him, and humbly put him in remembrance of his grant
passed his own mouth and signed with his own hand. Whereunto the
sultan answered him with a grim countenance: "I will thou
wit it, losel, that neither my mouth nor my hand shall be master over
me, to bind all my body at their pleasure, but I will so be lord and
master over them both, that whatsoever the one say, or the other
wit, I will be at mine own liberty to do what my list myself, and ask
them both no leave. And therefore go get thee hence out of my country,
Ween you now, my lord, that sultan and this Turk, being both
of one false sect, you may not find them both like false of their
That must I needs jeopard, for other surety can there none be had.

An unwise jeoparding, to put your soul in peril of damnation
for the keeping of your bodily pleasures, and yet without surety thereof
must jeopard them too.
But yet go a little further, lo; suppose me that you might be very
sure, that the Turk would break no promise with you: are you then
sure enough to retain all your substance still?
Yea, then.
What if a man should ask you, how long?
How long? As long as I live.
Well, let it be so then. But yet as far as I can see, though the
great Turk favor you never so much, and let you keep your goods
as long as ever you live, yet if it hap, that you be at this day fifty
year old, all the favor he can show you cannot make you one day
younger tomorrow, but every day shall you wax elder than other. And
then within a while must you, for all his favor, lose all.
Well, a man would be glad for all that, to be sure not to lack while
he liveth.
Well then, if the great Turk give you your good, can there then
in all your life no other take them from you again?

Verily, I suppose, no.
May he not lose this country again unto Christian men, and you
with the taking of this way fall in the same peril then, that you
would now eschew?
Forsooth, I think, that if he get it once, he will never after lose it again
in our days.
Yes, by God's grace: but yet if he lose it after your days, there
goeth your children's inheritance away again. But be it now
that he could never lose it; could none take your substance from
you then?
No, in good faith, none.
No? None at all? Not God?
God? What, yes, pardie; who doubteth of that?
Who? Marry, he that doubteth whether there be any God, or no.
And that there lacketh not some such the Prophet testifieth, where he
saith; "Dixit insipiens in corde suo, non est Deus" (The fool hath said in his
heart, there is no God). With the mouth the most foolish will forbear

to say it unto other folk, but in the heart they let not to say it softly
to themselves. And I fear me there be many more such fools than every
man would ween there were, and would not let to say it openly too, if
they forbore it not more for dread or shame of men, than for any fear
of God. But now those that are so frantic foolish as to ween there
were no God, and yet in their words confess him (though that as
St. Paul saith, in their deeds they deny him) we shall let them
pass, till it please God to show himself unto them, either inwardly
betimes, by his merciful grace, or else outwardly (but over late for
them) by his terrible judgment.
But unto you, my lord, since you believe and confess (like as a wise man
should) that though the Turk keep you promise in letting you keep
your substance because you do him pleasure in the forsaking of
your faith; yet God (whose faith you forsake, and therein do him
displeasure) may so take them from you that the great Turk, with
all the power he hath, is not able to keep you them, why will you be
so unwise, with the loss of your soul to please the great Turk for
your goods, while you wot well, that God, whom you displease
therewith, may take them from you too?
Besides this, since you believe there is a God, you cannot but believe
therewith, that the great Turk cannot take your good from you without
his will or sufferance, no more than the devil could from Job.
And think you then, that if he will suffer the Turk take away your
good, albeit that by the keeping and confessing of his faith you please
him; he will when you displease him by forsaking his faith, suffer
you of those goods that you get or keep thereby, to rejoice and enjoy
any benefit in?
God is gracious, and though that men offend him, yet he suffereth
them many times to live in prosperity long after.

Long after? Nay by my troth, my lord, that doth he no man. For how
can that be, that he should suffer you live in prosperity long after, when
your whole life is but short in all together, and either almost half thereof,
or more than half (you think yourself, I dare say), spent out already
before? Can you burn out half a short candle, and then have a long
one left of the remnant? There cannot be in this world a worse
mind, than that a man to delight and take comfort in any commodity
that he taketh by sinful means. For it is the very straight
way toward the taking of boldness and courage in sin, and finally to
fall into infidelity, and think that God careth not nor regardeth not
what things men do here, nor what mind we be of.
But, unto such minded folk speaketh holy scripture in this wise:
"Noli dicere, peccavi, et nihil mihi accidit triste; patiens enim redditor est
Dominus" (Say not, I have sinned, and yet there hath happed me no harm:
for God suffereth before he strike). But, as Saint Augustine saith, the
longer that he tarrieth ere he strike, the sorer is the stroke when he
And therefore if ye will well do, reckon yourself very sure, that when
you deadly displease God for the getting or the keeping of your goods,
God shall not suffer those goods to do you good, but either shall he
take them shortly from you, or suffer you to keep them for a little
while to your more harm; and after shall he, when you least look therefor,
take you away from them. And then what an heap of heaviness will
there enter into your heart, when you shall see that you shall so
suddenly go from your goods and leave them here in the earth in one
place, and that your body shall be put in the earth in another place;
and (which then shall be most heaviness of all) when you shall fear (and not
without great cause) that your soul shall first forthwith, and after
that (at the final judgment) your body too, be driven down deep toward

the center of the earth into the very pit and dungeon of the devil of
hell, there to tarry in torment world without end? What goods of
the world can any man imagine, whereof the pleasure and commodity
could be such in a thousand year, as were able to recompense that intolerable
pain that there is to be suffered in one year, yea or one day,
or one hour either? And then what a madness it is, for the poor
pleasure of your worldly goods of so few years, to cast yourself both
body and soul into the everlasting fire of hell, whereof there is not
diminished the mountenance of a moment by the lying there
the space of an hundred thousand years!
And therefore our Savior in few words concluded and confuted all
those follies of them, that for the short use of this worldly substance
forsake him and his faith, and sell their souls unto the devil forever,
where he saith: "Quid prodest homini si universum mundum lucretur, anime
vero suae detrimentum patiatur?" (What availeth it a man, if he won
all the whole world, and lost his soul?) This were, methinketh, cause and
occasion enough to him that had never so much part of this world in
his hand, to be content rather to lose it all, than for the retaining
or increasing of his worldly goods, to lose and destroy his soul?
This is, good Uncle, in good faith very true, and what other thing
any of them (that would not for this be content) have for to allege in
reason for the defense of their folly that can I not imagine, nor
list in this matter to play their part no longer. But I pray God give me
the grace to play the contrary part indeed, and that I never for any
good or substance of this wretched world, forsake my faith toward
God, neither in heart, nor tongue, as I trust in his great goodness I never

This kind of tribulation trieth what mind men have to
their goods, which they that are wise will at the fame
thereof see well and wisely laid up safe before.
The Fifteenth Chapter
Methinketh, Cousin, that this persecution shall not only, as I said
before, try men's hearts when it cometh, and make them know their
own affections, whether they have a corrupt, greedy, covetous mind,
or not: but also the very fame and expectation thereof may teach
them this lesson, ere ever the thing fall upon them itself, to their
no little fruit, if they have the wit and the grace to take it in time while
they may. For now may they find sure places to lay their
treasure in, so that all the Turk's army shall never find it out.
Marry, Uncle, that way they will, I warrant you, not forget, as near
as their wits will serve them. But yet have I known some, that
have ere this thought that they had hid their money safe and sure
enough, digging it full deep in the ground, and have missed it yet
when they came again, and have found it dug out, and carried away
to their hands.
Nay, from their hands, I ween you would say. And it was no marvel.
For some such have I known too, but they have hid their
goods foolishly, in such place as they were well warned before that
they should not. And that were they warned by him, that they well
knew for such one, as wist well enough what would come thereon.

Then were they more than mad. But did he tell them too, where
they should have hid it to have it sure?
Yea, by Saint Mary, did he. For else had he told them but half a tale.
But he told them an whole tale, bidding them, that they should in no
wise hide their treasure in the ground. And he showed them a good
cause: for there thieves use to dig it out, and steal it away.
Why where should they hide it then, said he? For thieves may hap
to find it out in any place.
Forsooth he counseled them to hide their treasure in heaven, and there
lay it up, for there it shall lie safe. For thither he said there can no
thief come, till he have left his theft and be waxen a true man first.
And he that gave this counsel, wist what he said well enough. For it
was our Savior himself, which in the sixth chapter of St. Matthew
saith: "Nolite thesaurizare vobis thesauros in terra, ubi erugo et tinea
demolitur, et ubi fures effodiunt et furantur. Thesaurizate vobis thesauros in
caelo, ubi neque erugo, neque tinea demolitur, et ubi fures non effodiunt nec
furantur. Ubi enim est thesaurus tuus, ibi est et cor tuum." (Hoard not up your
treasures in earth, where the rust and the moth fret it out, and where
thieves dig it out, and steal it away. But hoard up your treasures in heaven,
where neither the rust and the moth fret them out, and where thieves

dig them not out, and steal them away. For whereas is thy treasure,
there is thy heart too.)
If we would well consider these words of our Savior Christ, we
should, as methink, need no more counsel at all, nor no more comfort
neither, concerning the loss of our temporal substance in this
Turk's persecution for the faith. For here our Lord in these words
teacheth us where we may lay up our substance safe, before the
persecution come.
If we put it into the poor men's bosoms, there shall it lie safe. For
who would go search a beggar's bag for money? If we deliver it to the
poor for Christ's sake, we deliver it unto Christ himself. And then
what persecutor can there be so strong, as to take it out of his hand?
These things are, Uncle, undoubtedly so true, that no man may with
words wrestle therewith. But yet ever there hangeth in a man's heart
a loathness to lack a living.
There doth indeed, in theirs, that either never or but seldom
hear any good counsel thereagainst. And when they hear it, hearken
it but as though they would an idle tale, rather for a pastime, or for
the manner sake, than for any substantial intent or purpose to follow
good advertisement, and take any fruit thereby. But verily, if we would
not only lay our ear, but also our hear thereto, and consider
that the saying of our Savior Christ is not a poet's fable, nor an harper's
song, but the very holy word of Almighty God himself, we would,
and well we might, be full sore ashamed in ourselves, and full sorry too,
when we felt in our affection those words to have in our hearts no
more strength and weight, but that we remain still of the same dull
mind, as we did before we heard them.
This manner of ours, in whose breasts the great good counsel
of God no better settleth nor taketh no better root, may well declare

us that the thorns, and the briers, and the brambles of our worldly substance
grow so thick, and spring up so high in the ground of our
hearts, that they strangle, as the Gospel saith, the word of God that
was sown therein. And therefore is God very good Lord unto us, when he
causeth like a good husbandman his folk come afield (for the
persecutors be his folk to this purpose) and with their hooks and their
stocking-irons grub up these wicked weeds and bushes of our earthly
substance, and carry them quite away from us, that the word of God
sown in our hearts may have room therein, and a glade round about
for the warm sun of grace to come to it and make it grow. For
surely those words of our Savior shall we find full true: "Ubi thesaurus
tuus, ibi est et cor tuum" (Where as thy treasure is, there is also thine
heart). If we lay up our treasure in earth, in earth shall be our
hearts. If we send our treasure into heaven, in heaven shall we have
our hearts. And surely the greatest comfort that any may have in
his tribulation, is to have his heart in heaven.
If thine heart were indeed out of this world and in heaven, all the
kinds of torment that all the world could devise, could put thee to no
pain here. Let us then send our hearts hence thither, in such manner
as we may (by sending thither our worldly substance) hence.
And let us never doubt it but we shall (that once done) find our hearts
so conversant in heaven, with the glad consideration of our following
the gracious counsel of Christ, that the comfort of his Holy Spirit (inspired
us therefor) shall mitigate, diminish, assuage, and in manner quench
the great furious fervor of the pain that we shall hap to have
by his loving sufferance for our further merit in our tribulation.
And therefore, like as if we saw that we should be within a while driven
out of this land, and fain to flee into another, we would ween that
man were mad, which would not be content to forbear his goods

here for the while, and send them into that land before him, where he
saw he should live all the remnant of his life: so may we verily
think ourselves much more mad (seeing that we be sure it cannot
be long ere we shall be sent spite of our teeth out of this world) if the
fear of a little lack, or the love to see our goods here about us, and the
loathness to part from them for this little while which we may keep
them here, shall be able to let us from the sure sending them before us
into the other world, in which we may be sure to live wealthily with
them, if we send them thither, or else shortly leave them here behind
us, and then stand in great jeopardy there, to live wretches forever.
In good faith, good Uncle, methink that concerning the loss
of these outward things, these considerations are so sufficient comforts,
that for mine own part, save only grace well to remember
them, I would methink desire no more.
Another comfort and courage against the loss of
worldly substance.
The Sixteenth Chapter
Much less than this may serve, Cousin, with calling and trusting
upon God's help, without which, much more than this
cannot serve. But the fervor of the Christian faith so sore fainteth
nowadays, and decayeth, coming from hot unto lukewarm, and from
lukewarm almost to key-cold, that men must now be fain as at
a fire that is almost out, to lay many dry sticks thereto, and use much
blowing thereat. But else would I ween by my troth, that unto a warm

faithful man one thing alone, whereof we spoke yet no word, were
comfort enough in this kind of persecution against the loss of all his
What thing may that be, Uncle?
In good faith, Cousin, even the bare remembrance of the poverty
that our Savior willingly suffered for us. For I verily suppose, that if
there were a great king that had so tender love to a servant of
his, that he had (to help him out of danger) forsaken and left of all his
worldly wealth and royalty, and become poor and needy for his sake: that
servant could scant be found that were of such an unkind villainous
courage, that if himself came after to some substance, would not
with better will lose it all again, than shamefully to forsake such a
And therefore, as I say, I do surely suppose, that if we would well remember
and inwardly consider the great goodness of our Savior
toward us, not yet being his poor sinful servants, but rather his
adversaries and his enemies, and what wealth of this world that he willingly
forsook for our sake, being indeed universal king thereof, and so
having the power in his own hand to have used it, if he had
would, instead whereof (to make us rich in heaven) he lived here in neediness
and poverty all his life, and neither would have authority, nor keep
neither lands nor goods: the deep consideration and earnest advisement
of this one point alone, were able to make any kind Christian
man or woman well content rather for his sake again to give up
all that ever God hath lent them (and lent them hath he all that ever
they have) than unkindly and unfaithfully to forsake him. And him
they forsake, if that for fear they forsake the confessing of his Christian
faith. And therefore to finish this piece withal, concerning the dread

of losing our outward worldly goods, let us consider the slender
commodity that they bring, with what labor they be bought, how
little while they abide with whomsoever they abide longest, what
pain their pleasure is mingled withal, what harm the love of them
doth unto the soul, what loss is in the keeping (Christ's faith refused
for them), what winning in the loss, if we lose them for
God's sake, how much more profitable they be well given than evil
kept, and finally, what unkindness it were, if we would not rather
forsake them for Christ's sake, than unfaithfully forsake Christ for
them, which, while he lived, for our sake forsook all the world, besides
the suffering of shameful and painful death, whereof we shall speak
after: if we these things, I say, will consider well, and will pray God
with his holy hand to print them in our hearts, and will abide and dwell
still in the hope of his help: his truth shall (as the Prophet saith)
so compass us about with a pavise, that we shall not need to be afeard
"Ab incursu et demonio meridiano" (of this incursion of this midday
devil), this open plain persecution of the Turk, for any
loss that we can take by the bereaving from us of our wretched worldly
goods, for whose short and small pleasure in this life forborne, we shall
be with heavenly substance everlastingly recompensed of God in
joyful bliss and glory.
Of bodily pain, and that a man hath no cause to take
discomfort in persecution, though he feel himself in an
horror at the thinking upon bodily pain.
The Seventeenth Chapter
Forsooth, Uncle, as for these outward goods, you have so far forth
said, that albeit no man can be sure what strength he shall have, or

how faint and how feeble he may hap to find himself when he shall
come to the point, and therefore I can make no warrantise of myself,
seeing that St. Peter so suddenly fainted at a woman's word and so
cowardly forsook his master, for whom he had so boldly fought
within so few hours before, and by that fall in forsaking well perceived
that he had been rash in his promise, and was well worthy to
take a fall for putting so full trust in himself: yet in good faith methinketh
now (and God shall I trust help me to keep this thought
still), that if the Turk should take all that I have unto my very shirt
(except I would forsake my faith) and offer it me all again with five
times as much thereto to fall into his sect, I would not once stick thereat,
rather to forsake it every whit than of Christ's holy faith to forsake
any point. But surely, good Uncle, when I bethink me further on the
grief and the pain that may turn unto my flesh, here find I the
fear that forceth mine heart to tremble.
Neither have I cause thereof to marvel thereof, nor you, Cousin, cause to
be dismayed therefor. The great horror and the fear that our Savior
had in his own flesh against his painful Passion, maketh me
little to marvel, and I may well make you take that comfort too, that
for no such manner of grudging felt in your sensual parts, the flesh
shrinking at the meditation of pain and death, your reason shall give
over, but resist it and manly master it. And though you would fain flee
from the painful death, and be loath to come thereto; yet may the meditation
of his great grievous agony move you, and himself shall, if you so
desire him, not fail to work with you therein, and get and give you the
grace, that you shall submit and conform your will therein unto his,
as he did unto his Father, and shall thereupon be so comforted with
the secret inward inspiration of his Holy Spirit, as he was with the

personal presence of that angel that after his agony came and comforted
him, that you shall as his true disciple follow him, and with
good will without grudge do as he did, and take your cross of pain
and passion upon your back, and die for the truth with him, and thereby
reign with him crowned in eternal glory. And this, I say, to give you
warning of the thing that is truth, to the intent when a man feeleth
such an horror of death in his heart, he should not thereby stand in outrageous
fear that he were falling. For many such man standeth for
all that fear full fast, and finally better abide the brunt, when God
is so good unto him as to bring him thereto, and encourage him therein,
than doth some other that in the beginning feeleth no fear at all.
And yet may it be, and most often so it is, for God having many mansions,
and all wonderful wealthful in his Father's house, exalteth not every
good man up to the glory of a martyr, but foreseeing their infirmity,
that though they be of good will before, and peradventure of right good
courage too, would yet play Saint Peter, if they were brought to the
point, and thereby bring their souls into the peril of eternal damnation:
he provideth otherwise for them, before they come thereat, and
either findeth a way that men shall not have the mind to
lay any hands upon them, as he found for his disciples, when himself
was willingly taken, or that if they set hand on them, they shall
have no power to hold them, as he found for St. John the Evangelist,
which let his sheet fall from him, whereupon they caught hold, and so
fled himself naked away, and escaped from them; or, though they hold
him and bring him to prison too, yet God sometimes delivereth them
thence, as he did Saint Peter, and sometimes he taketh them to him,
out of the prison into heaven, and suffereth them not to come to their
torment at all, as he hath done by many a good holy man. And some
he suffereth to be brought into the torments, and yet he suffereth them
not to die therein, but live many years after, and die their natural
death, as he did by Romanus that should have been beheaded as Eusebius
telleth. "Blonidina et apud Divius Ciprianus quidam et relictus pro mortuo"

Saint John the Evangelist and by many another more, as we may well
see both in sundry stories, and in the epistles of St. Cyprian also.
And therefore which way God will take with us, we cannot tell: but
surely if we be true Christian men, this can we well tell, that without
any bold warrantise of ourselves, or foolish trust in our own strength,
we be bound upon pain of damnation, that we be not of the contrary
mind, but that we will with his help (how loath soever we feel
our flesh thereto) rather yet than forsake him or his faith before the
world (which if we do, he hath promised to forsake us before his Father,
and all the holy company of heaven), rather, I say, than we would so do, we
would with his help endure and sustain for his sake all the tormentry
that the devil with all his faithless tormentors in this world would
devise. And then when we be of this mind, and submit our will unto
his, and call and pray for his grace, we can tell well enough that
he will never suffer them to put more upon us than his grace will
make us able to bear, but will also with their temptation provide
for us a sure way. For "Fidelis est Deus," saith Saint Paul, "qui non patitur
vos tentari, supra id quod potestis, sed dat etiam cum tentatatione proventum ut
possitis ferre" (God is), saith the Apostle, (faithful, which suffereth you
not to be tempted above that you may bear, but giveth also with the
temptation a way out). For either, as I said, he will keep us out of their
hands (though he before suffer us to be feared with them to prove
our faith withal, that we may have by the examination of our own
mind, some comfort in hope of his grace, and some fear of our own
frailty to drive us to call for grace), or else if we fall in their hands,

so that we fall not from the trust of him, nor cease to call for his help,
his truth shall, as the Prophet saith, so compass us about with a
pavise, that we shall need not to fear this incursion of this midday
devil. For either shall these Turk's tormentors that shall enter
this land and persecute us, either they shall, I say, not have the power
to touch our bodies at all, or else the short pain that they shall put
unto our bodies, shall turn us to eternal profit both in our souls
and in our bodies too. And therefore, Cousin, to begin with, let us be of
good comfort. For since we be by our faith very sure that holy scripture
is the very word of God, and that the word of God cannot be but
true, and that we see that both by the mouth of his holy Prophet, and
by the mouth of his blessed Apostle also, God hath made us so faithful
promises, both that he will not suffer us to be tempted
above our power, but will both provide a way out for us, and that he
will also round about so compass us with his pavise, and defend us,
that we shall have no cause to fear this midday devil with all his
persecution: we cannot now but be very sure (except we be very
shamefully cowardous of heart, and toward God in faith out of measure
faint, and in love less than lukewarm, or waxen even key-cold), we
may be very sure, I say, that either God shall not suffer the Turks
to invade this land, or, if they do, God shall provide such resistance
that they shall not prevail or, if they prevail, yet if we take
the way that I have told you, we shall by their persecution take little
harm or rather no harm at all, but that that shall seem harm,
shall indeed be to us no harm at all, but good. For if God make us
and keep us good men (as he hath promised to do, if we pray well
therefor) then saith holy scripture: "Bonis omnia cooperantur in bonum"
(Unto good folk all things turn them to good.)
And therefore, Cousin, since that God knoweth what shall happen, and not
we, let us in the meanwhile with a good hope in the help of God's
grace, have a good purpose with us of sure standing by his holy faith
against all persecutions. From which if we should (which our Lord
forbid) hereafter either for fear or pain, for lack of his grace (lost in

our own default) mishap to decline: yet had we both won the
well-spent time in this good purpose before, to the diminishment of
our pain, and were also much the more likely, that God should lift us
up after our fall, and give us his grace again. Howbeit, if
this persecution come, we be by this meditation and well-continued
intent and purpose before, the better strengthened and confirmed, and much
the more likely for to stand indeed. And if it so fortune (as with
God's grace at men's good prayers and amendment of our evil lives,
it may fortune full well) that the Turk shall either be well withstood
and vanquished, or peradventure not invade us at all: then
shall we, pardie, by this good purpose get ourselves of God a very good,
cheap thanks.
And on the other side, while we now think thereon (as not to think
thereon, in so great likelihood thereof, I ween no wise man can) if we
should for the fear of worldly loss, or bodily pain, framed in our
own minds, think that we would give over, and to save our goods,
and our lives, forsake our Savior by denial of his faith, then whether
the Turks come, or come not, we be gone from God the while. And
then if they come not indeed, or come and be driven to flight, what a
shame should this be to us before the face of God, in so shameful cowardous
wise to forsake him for fear of that pain that we never felt,
nor never was falling towards us?
By my troth, Uncle, I thank you. Methinketh that though you
never said more in the matter, yet have you even with this that you
have (of the fear of bodily pain in this persecution) spoken here already,
marvelously comforted mine heart.
I am glad, Cousin, if your heart have taken comfort thereby. But and

if you so have, give God the thanks, and not me, for that work is
his, and not mine. For neither am I able any good thing to say, but
by him, nor all the good words in the world, no not the holy words
of God himself, and spoken also with his own holy mouth, can be
able to profit the man with the sound entering at his ear, but if the
Spirit of God therewith inwardly work in his soul; but that is his
goodness ever ready to do, except the let be through the untowardness
of our own froward will.
Of comfort against bodily pain, and first against
The Eighteenth Chapter
And therefore now being somewhat in comfort and courage before,
whereby we may more quietly consider everything, which is
somewhat more hard and difficult to do, when the heart is before taken
up and oppressed with the troublous affection of heavy sorrowful fear:
let us examine the weight and the substance of those bodily pains,
as the sorest part of this persecution which you rehearsed before, which
were (if I remember you right) thralldom, imprisonment, painful
and shameful death. And first let us, as reason is, begin with the thralldom,
for that was, as I remember, the first.
I pray you, good Uncle, say then somewhat thereof. For methinketh,
Uncle, that captivity is a marvelous heavy thing, namely when they
shall, as they most commonly do, carry us far from home, into a strange
uncouth land.

I cannot say nay, but that grief it is, Cousin, indeed. But yet as unto
me not half so much as it would be, if they could carry me out into
any such unknown country, that God could not wit where, nor find
the means to come at me. But in good faith, Cousin, now, if my transmigration
into a strange country should be any great grief
unto me, the fault should be much in myself. For since I am very sure
that whithersoever men convey me, God is no more verily here, than
he shall be there: if I get (as I may, if I will) the grace to set my whole
heart upon him, and long for nothing but him, it can then make me
no great matter to my mind, whether they carry me hence or leave me
here. And then if I find my mind much offended therewith, that I
am not still here in mine own country, I must consider that the cause
of my grief is mine own wrong imagination, whereby I beguile myself
with an untrue persuasion, weening that this were mine own
country, whereas of truth it is not so. For as St. Paul saith, "Non
habemus hic civitatem manentem, sed futuram inquerimus" (We have here no
city nor dwelling country at all, but we seek for one that we shall
come to). And in what country soever we walk in this world, we
be but as pilgrims and wayfaring men. And if I should take any
country for mine own, it must be that country to which I come,
and not the country from which I came.
That country that shall be to me then for a while so strange, shall
yet, pardie, be no more strange to me, nor longer strange to me
neither, than was mine own native country when I came first
into it. And therefore if that point of my being far from hence be
very grievous to me, and that I find it a great pain, that I am not
where I would be: that grief shall great part grow for lack of sure
setting and settling my mind in God, where it should be; which fault
of mine when I mend, I shall soon ease my grief.

Now as for all the other griefs and pains that are in captivity, thralldom,
and bondage; I cannot deny but many there are and
great. Howbeit they seem yet somewhat (what say I somewhat, I may
say a great deal) the more, because we take our former liberty
for more a great deal, than indeed it was. Let us therefore consider the
matter thus.
Captivity, bondage, or thralldom, what is it but the violent restraint
of a man, being so subdued under the dominion, rule, and power
of another, that he must do what the other list to command him,
and may not do at his liberty such things as he list himself.
Now when we shall be carried away with a Turk, and be fain to be
occupied about such things as he list to set us; here shall we lament
the loss of our liberty, and think we bear an heavy burden of our
servile condition. And so to do we shall have (I grant well) many times
great occasion. But yet should we, I suppose, set thereby somewhat the
less, if we would remember well, what liberty that was that we lost,
and take it for no larger than it was indeed. For we reckon as though
we might before do what we would: but therein we deceive ourselves.
For what free man is there so free, that can be suffered to do what him
list? In many things God hath restrained us by his high commandment,
and so many that of those things which else we would do, I ween
it be more than the half. Howbeit, because (God forgive us!) we let
so little therefor, but do what we list, as though we heard him not,
we reckon our liberty nevertheless for that.
But then is our liberty much restrained by the laws made by
men for the quiet and politic governance of the people. And these
would, I ween, let our liberty but a little neither, were it not for fear
of the pains that fall thereupon.
Look then whether other men, that have authority over us command

us never no business which we dare not but do, and therefore do
it full often full sore against our wills. Of which things some service is
sometimes so painful and so perilous too, that no lord can lightly command
his bondman worse, nor seldom doth command him half
so sore.
Let every free man that reckoneth his liberty to stand in doing what
he list, consider well these points, and I ween he shall then find
his liberty much less than he took it for before. And yet have I left untouched
the bondage, that almost every man is in that boasteth himself
for free; the bondage, I mean, of sin. Which to be a very
bondage, I shall have our Savior himself to bear me good record.
For he saith: "Qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati" (He that committeth
sin, is the thrall, or bondsman of sin). And then, if this be thus
(as it must needs so be, since God saith it is so), who is there then that
may make so much boast of his liberty, that he should take it for so sore
a thing and so strange, to become through chance of war bound
unto a man, while he is already through sin become willingly thrall
and bound unto the devil?
Let us look well, how many things and of what vile wretched sort the
devil driveth us to do daily through the rash braids of our blind
affections which we be for our faultful lack of grace fain to follow
and are too feeble to refrain, and then shall we find in our natural
freedom our bond service such, that never was there any man lord of
any so vile a villain, that ever would for very shame command him
so shameful service. And let us in the doing of our service to the
man that we be slave unto, remember what we were wont
to do about the same time of the day, while we were at our free liberty
before, and were well likely, if we were at liberty to do the like again:
and we shall peradventure perceive, that it were better for us to do this
business than that.
Now shall we have great occasion of comfort, if we consider, that
our servitude (though in the count of the world it seem to come by

chance of war) cometh yet in very deed unto us, by the provident
send of God, and that for our great good, if we will take it well, both
in remission of sins, and also matter of our merit.
The greatest grief that is in bondage or captivity is this, as I trow,
that we be forced to do such labor as with our good will we would
not. But then against that grief Seneca teacheth us a good remedy:
"Semper da operam, ne quid invitus facias" (Endeavor thyself evermore,
that thou do nothing against thy will); but that thing that we see we
shall needs do, let us use always to put our good will thereto.
That is, Uncle, soon said: but it is hard to do.
Our froward mind maketh every good thing hard, and that to our
own more hurt and harm. But in this case, if we will be good Christian
men, we shall have great cause gladly to be content for the great
comfort that we may take thereby, while we remember that in the
patient and glad doing of our service unto that man for God's sake,
according to his high commandment by the mouth of Saint Paul,
"Servi, oboedite dominis" -- we shall have our thanks and our reward of God.
Finally, if we remember the great humble meekness of our
Savior Christ himself, that he being very Almighty God, "Humiliavit
semet ipsum, formam servi accipiens" (Humbled himself, and took the form
of a bondman or a slave), rather than his Father should forsake us: we
may think ourselves very unkind caitiffs, and very frantic fools too,
if rather than to endure this worldly bondage for a while, we would
forsake him that hath by his own death delivered us out of everlasting
bondage of the devil, and will for our short bondage give us everlasting

Well fare you, good Uncle, this is very well said. Albeit that bondage
is a condition that every man of any courage would be glad to eschew, and
very loath to fall in, yet have you well made it open that it is a thing
neither so strange, nor so sore, as it before seemed, unto me, and
especially far from such, as any man that any wit hath, should for fear
thereof shrink from the confession of his faith. And now therefore, I
pray you, somewhat speak of your imprisonment.
Of imprisonment, and comfort thereagainst.
The Nineteenth Chapter
That shall I, Cousin, with good will. And first, if we would consider,
what thing imprisonment is of his own nature, we should not, methinketh,
have so great horror thereof. For of itself it is, pardie, but
a restraint of liberty, which letteth a man from going whither he
Yes, by Saint Mary, Uncle, methinketh it is much more sorrow than
so. For beside the let and restraint of liberty, it hath many
more displeasures and very sore griefs knit and adjoined thereto.
That is, Cousin, very true indeed. And those pains, among many
sorer than those, thought I not after to forget. Howbeit, I purpose
now, to consider first imprisonment but as imprisonment only,
without any other incommodity beside. For a man may be,

pardie, imprisoned, and yet not set in the stocks, nor collared fast by the
neck, and a man may be let walk at large where he will, and yet a pair
of fetters fast riveted on his legs. For in this country, ye wot well, and
in Seville and Portugal too, so go all the slaves.
Howbeit, because that for such things men's hearts hath such
horror thereof, albeit that I am not so mad as to go about to prove
that bodily pain were no pain; yet since that because of these
manner of pains, we so especially abhor the state and condition of
prisoners, we should, methinketh, well perceive that a great part of
our horror groweth of our own fantasy, if we would call to mind and
consider the state and condition of many other folk, in whose state and
condition we would wish ourselves to stand, taking them for no prisoners
at all, that stand yet for all that in much part of the selfsame
points that we abhor imprisonment for. Let us therefore consider
these things in order.
And first, as I thought to begin, because those other kinds of
griefs that come with imprisonment, are but accidents thereunto,
and yet neither such kinds of accidents as either be proper thereunto,
but that they may (almost all) fall unto a man without it nor are not
such accidents thereunto, as are inseparable therefrom, but that imprisonment
may fall to a man, and none of all them therewith: we will, I
say, therefore begin with the considering what manner pain or
incommodity we should reckon imprisonment to be of itself, and of
his own nature alone. And then in the course of our communication,
you shall, as you list, increase and aggrieve the cause of your horror
with the terror of those painful accidents.
I am sorry that I did interrupt your tale. For you were about, I see
well, to take an orderly way therein. And as yourself have devised,
so I beseech you proceed. For though I reckon imprisonment much the
sorer thing by sore and hard handling therein, yet reckon I not the

imprisonment of itself any less than a thing very tedious, all were
it used in the most favorable manner that it possibly might. For, Uncle,
if it were a great prince that were taken prisoner upon the field, and
in the hand of a Christian king, which use in such case (for the consideration
of their former estate, and the mutable chance of the war)
to show much humanity to them, and in very favorable wise entreat
them (for these infidel emperors handle oftentimes the princes that
they take more villainously than they do the poorest men, as the great
Tamburlaine kept the great Turk when he had taken him, to tread
on his back always while he leapt on horseback); but, as I began to
say by the example of a prince taken prisoner, were the imprisonment
never so favorable, yet were it in my mind no little grief in itself
for a man to be pinned up, though not in a narrow chamber, but
although his walk were right large, and right fair gardens too therein,
it could not but grieve his heart to be restrained by another man
within certain limits and bounds, and lose the liberty to be where
him list.
This is, Cousin, well considered of you. For in this you perceive well,
that imprisonment is of itself, and his own very nature alone,
nothing else but the retaining of a man's person within the circuit
of a certain space, narrower or larger, as shall be limited to him,
restraining his liberty from the further going into any other place.
Very well said, as methinketh.
Yet forgot I, Cousin, to ask you one question.

What is that, Uncle?
This, lo: if there be two men kept in two several chambers of one
great castle, of which two chambers the one is much more large
than the other: whether be they prisoners both, or but the one that
hath the less room to walk in?
What question is it, Uncle, but that they be prisoners both, as I
said myself before, although the one lay fast locked in the stocks,
and the other had all the whole castle to walk in?
Methinketh verily, Cousin, that you say the truth. And then if
imprisonment be such a thing as yourself here agree it is, that is to
wit, but a lack of liberty to go if we list: now would I fain wit of you,
what any one man you know, that is at this day out of prison?
What one man, Uncle? Marry I know almost none other. For surely
prisoner am I none acquainted with, that I remember.
Then I see well, you visit poor prisoners seldom.
No by my troth, Uncle, I cry God mercy. I send them sometimes
mine alms, but, by my troth, I love not to come myself where
I should see such misery.

In good faith, Cousin Vincent, though I say it before you, you have
many good conditions: but surely though I say it before you too, that
condition is none of them. Which condition if you would amend,
then should you have yet the more good conditions by one. And, peradventure,
the more by three or four. For I assure you, it is hard to tell
how much good to a man's soul the personal visiting of poor prisoners
But now since you can name me none of them that are in prison, I
pray you name some one of all them, that you be (as you say)
better acquainted with, men, I mean, that are out of prison. For I
know, methinketh, as few of them, as you know of the other.
That were, Uncle, a strange case. For every man is, Uncle, out of
prison, that may go where he will, though he be the poorest beggar in
the town. And in good faith, Uncle (because you reckon imprisonment
so small a matter of itself), the poor beggar that is at his liberty,
and may walk where he will, is as meseemeth in better case, than is a
king kept in prison that cannot go but where men give him leave.
Well, Cousin, whether every way-walking beggar be by this reason
out of prison or no, we shall consider farther when ye will. But in
the meanwhile, I can by this reason see no prince that seemeth to
be out of prison. For if the lack of liberty to go where a man will,
be imprisonment, as yourself say it is, then is the great Turk, by
whom we so fear to be put in prison, in prison already himself.
For he may not go where he will: for and he might, he would into Portugal,
Italy, Spain, France, Almaine, and England, and as far on
another quarter too, both Prester John's land and the great Khan's too.

Now the beggar that you speak of, if he be, as you say he is by
reason of his liberty to go where he will, in much better case than a
king kept in prison, because he cannot go but where men give him
leave: then is that beggar in better case not only than a prince in
prison, but also than many a prince out of a prison too. For I am sure
there is many a beggar that may without let, walk further upon
other men's ground, than many a prince at his best liberty may walk
upon his own. And as for walking out abroad upon other men's,
that prince might hap to be said nay, and held fast, where
that beggar with his bag and his staff would be suffered to go forth and
hold on his way. But forasmuch, Cousin, as neither the beggar nor
the prince is at free liberty to walk where they will, but that if
they would walk in some place, neither of them both should be suffered,
but men would withstand them and say them nay: therefore if imprisonment
be (as you grant it is) a lack of liberty to go where we list, I
cannot see, but, as I say, the beggar and the prince, whom you reckon both
at liberty, be by your own reason restrained in prison both.
Yea but, Uncle, both the one and the other have way enough to
walk: the one in his own ground, the other in other men's, or in the
common highway, where they may walk till they be both weary of
walking ere any man say them nay.
So may, Cousin, that king that had, as yourself put the case, all
the whole castle to walk in; and yet you say not nay, but that he is
a prisoner for all that, though not so straitly kept, yet as verily
prisoner, as he that lieth in the stocks.
But they may go at the leastwise to every place that they need, or

that is commodious for them, and therefore they do not will to go but
where they may go, and therefore be they at liberty to go where they
Me needeth not, Cousin, to spend the time about the impugning
every part of this answer. For letting pass by, that though a prisoner
were with his keeper brought into every place where need required:
yet since he might not when he would, go where he would for
his only pleasure, he were, ye wot well, a prisoner still; and letting
pass over also this, that it were to this beggar need, and to this
king commodious, to go into divers places, where neither of them
both may come; and letting pass also, that neither of them both
is lightly so temperately determined, but that they both fain so would
do indeed, if this reason of yours put them out of prison, and set
them at liberty, and make them free (as I will well grant it doth, if
they so do) indeed; that is to wit, if they have no will to go, but
where they may go indeed; then let us look on our other prisoners,
enclosed within a castle, and we shall find that the straitest kept
of them both, if he get the wisdom and the grace to quiet his own
mind, and hold himself content with that place, and long not (like a
woman with child for her lusts) to be gadding out anywhere else, is
by the same reason of yours, while his will is not longing to be anywhere
else, he is, I say, at his free liberty, to be where he will, and so
is out of prison too.
And on the other side, if though his will be not longing to be anywhere
else, yet because that if his will so were, he should not so be
suffered, he is therefore not at his free liberty, but a prisoner still: so since
your free beggar that you speak of, and the prince that you call out of
prison too, though they be (which I ween very few be) by some
special wisdom, so temperately disposed, that they have not the will
to be, but where they see they may be suffered to be, yet since that if
they would have that will, they could not then be where they would,
they lack the effect of free liberty, and be both twain in prison too.

Well, Uncle, if every man universally be by this reason in prison
already after the very property of imprisonment, yet to be imprisoned
in this special manner, which manner is only commonly called
imprisonment, is a thing of great horror and fear, both for
the straitness of the keeping and the hard handling that many men
have therein, of all which griefs, and pains, and displeasures, in this other
general imprisonment that you speak of, we feel nothing at all. And
therefore every man abhorreth the one, and would be loath to come into
it: and no man abhorreth the other, for they feel no harm, nor find
no fault therein. Wherefore, Uncle, in good faith though I cannot find
answers convenient, wherewith to avoid your arguments, yet to be
plain with you, and tell you the very truth, my mind findeth not
itself satisfied in this point: but that ever methinketh, that these
things, wherewith you rather convince and conclude me, than induce
a credence and persuade me, that every man is in prison already,
be but sophistical fantasies: and that (except those that are commonly
called prisoners) other men are not in prison at all.
Well fare thine heart, good Cousin Vincent. There was in good faith
no word that you spoke since we talked of these matters, that half
so well liked me, as this that you speak now. For if you had assented
in words, and in your mind departed unpersuaded, then if the thing
be true that I say, yet had you lost the fruit. And if it be peradventure
false, and myself deceived therein, then while I should ween that it liked
you too, you should have confirmed me in my folly. For in good faith,
Cousin, such an old fool am I, that this thing, in the persuading
whereof unto you, I had weened I had quit me well, and when I have all
done, appeareth to your mind but a trifle and a sophistical
fantasy, myself have so many years taken for so very substantial

truth, that as yet my mind cannot give me to think it any
other. Wherefore lest I play as the French priest played, that had so long
used to say "Dominus" with the second syllable long, that at last he
thought it must needs be so, and was ashamed to say it short, to the
intent you may the better perceive me, or I the better myself, we shall
here between us a little more consider the thing, and hardily spit well
on your hands, and take good hold, and give it not over against your
own mind. For then were we never the nearer.
Nay, by my troth, Uncle, that intend I not, nor nothing did yet
since we began. And that may you well perceive by some things, which
without any great cause, save for the further satisfaction of mine
own mind, I repeated and debated again.
That guise, Cousin, hold on hardily still. For in this matter I purpose
to give over my part, except I make yourself perceive, both
that every man universally is a very prisoner in very prison, plainly
without any sophistication at all; and that there is also no prince
living upon earth, but he is in worse case prisoner by this general
imprisonment that I speak of, than is many a lewd simple wretch, by
that special imprisonment that you speak of. And over this, that in
this general imprisonment that I speak of, men are for the time that
they be therein so sore handled and so hardly, and in such painful
wise, that men's hearts have with reason great cause as sore to abhor
this hard handling that is in this imprisonment, as the other that is
in that.
By my troth, Uncle, these things would I fain see well-proved.

Tell me then, Cousin, first, by your troth, if there were a man
attainted of treason or felony, and after judgment given of his death,
and that it were determined that he should die, only the time of his
execution delayed till the king's further pleasure known, and he thereupon
delivered to certain keepers, and put up in a sure place, out of
which he could not escape, were this man a prisoner or no?
This man, quoth he? Yea marry that he were in very deed, if ever any
man were.
But now, what if for the time that were mean between his
attainder and his execution, he were so favorably handled that he were
suffered to do what he would, as he was while he was abroad, and to have
the use of his lands and his goods, and his wife and his children license
to be with him, and his friends leave at liberty to resort unto him,
and his servants not forbidden to abide about him; and add yet
thereunto, that the place were a great castle royal, with parks and
other pleasures therein a very great circuit about; yea add yet and ye
will, that he were suffered to go and ride also, both when he would, and
whither he would, only this one point always provided and foreseen,
that he should ever be surely seen to and safely kept from escaping, so that
took he never so much of his own mind in the meanwhile all other
ways, save escaping, yet he well knew that escape he could not, and that
when he were called for, to death and execution he should; now, Cousin
Vincent, what would you call this man? A prisoner, because he is kept
for execution? Or no prisoner, because he is in the meanwhile so
favorably handled, and suffered to do all that he would, save escape? And
I bid you not here be hasty in your answer, but advise it well,

that you grant no such thing in haste, as you would after mislike by
leisure, and think yourself deceived.
Nay by my troth, Uncle, this thing needeth no study at all in my
mind, but that for all this favor showed him, and all this
liberty lent him, yet being condemned to death, and being kept,
therefor and kept with such sure watch laid upon him, that he cannot
escape: he is all that while a very plain prisoner still.
In good faith, Cousin, methinketh you say very true. But then one
thing must I yet desire you, Cousin, to tell me a little further. If there
were another laid in prison for a fray, and through the jailer's displeasure
were bolted and fettered, and laid in a low dungeon in the
stocks, where he might hap to lie peradventure for a while, and
abide in the mean season some pain, but no danger of death at all,
but that out again he should come well enough: whether of these two
prisoners stood in worse case, he that hath all this favor, or he that
is thus hardly handled?
By our Lady! Uncle, I ween the most part of men, if they should needs
choose, had lever be such prisoners in every point, as he that so sorely
lieth in the stocks, than in every point such, as he that at such liberty
walketh about the park.
Consider then, Cousin, whether this thing seem any sophistry to
you, that I shall show you now. For it shall be such as seemeth in good

faith substantially true to me. And if it so happen that you think
otherwise, I will be very glad to perceive which of us both is beguiled.
For it seemeth to me, Cousin, first, that every man coming into this
world here upon earth, as he is created by God, so cometh he
hither by the providence of God. Is this any sophistry first, or not?
Nay verily, this is very substantial truth.
Now take I this also for very truth in my mind, that there cometh
no man nor woman hither into the earth, but that ere ever
they come quick into the world out of the mother's womb, God condemneth
them unto death by his own sentence and judgment
for the original sin that they bring with them contracted in the
corrupted stock of our forefather Adam. Is this, Cousin, think you,
verily thus, or not?
This is, Uncle, very true indeed.
Then seemeth this true further unto me, that God hath put every
man here upon the earth, under so sure and under so safe keeping, that of
all the whole people living in this wide world, there is neither
man, woman, nor child, would they never so fain wander about and
seek it, that possibly can find any way, whereby they may escape from
death. Is this, Cousin, a fond imagined fantasy, or is it very truth indeed?

Nay, this is no imagination, Uncle, but a thing so clearly proved
true, that no man is so mad, to say nay.
Then need I no more, Cousin. For then is all the matter plain
and open evident truth which I said I took for truth. Which is yet more
a little now, than I told you before, when you took my proof yet but for
a sophistical fantasy, and said, that for all my reasoning, that every man
is a prisoner, yet you thought, that except those whom the common
people call prisoners, there is else no man a very prisoner indeed.
And now you grant yourself again for very substantial open
truth, that every man is here (though he be the greatest king upon
earth) set here by the ordinance of God in a place, be it never so
large, a place, I say, yet (and you say the same) out of which no man
can escape, but that therein is every man put under sure and safe keeping,
to be readily fetched forth, when God calleth for him, and that then he
shall surely die. And is not then, Cousin, by your own granting before,
every man a very prisoner, when he is put in a place to be
kept, to be brought forth when he would not, and himself wot not
Yes, in good faith, Uncle I cannot but well perceive this to be so.
This were, you wot well, true, although a man should be but taken by
the arm, and in fair manner led out of this world unto his judgment.
But now, while we well know that there is no king so great, but that
all the while he walketh here, walk he never so loose, ride he with

never so strong an army for his defense, yet himself is very sure
(though he seek in the mean season some other pastime to put it out
of his mind) yet is he very sure, I say, that escape he cannot; and very
well he knoweth, that he hath already sentence given upon him to
die, and that verily die he shall, and that himself (though he hope
upon long respite of his execution), yet can he not tell how soon. And
therefore, but if he be a fool he can never be without fear, that either
on the morrow, or on the selfsame day, that grisly, cruel hangman,
death, which, from his first coming in, hath ever hoved aloof, and looked
toward him, and ever lain in await on him, shall amid among all
his royalty, and all his main strength, neither kneel before him, nor
make him any reverence, nor with any good manner desire him to
come forth; but rigorously and fiercely gripe him by the very
breast, and make all his bones rattle, and so by long and divers sore torments,
strike him stark dead in this prison, and then cause his body
to be cast into the ground in a foul pit, within some corner of the
same, there to rot and be eaten with wretched worms of the earth,
sending yet his soul out further unto a more fearful judgment,
whereof at his temporal death his success is uncertain; and therefore,
though, by God's grace, not out of good hope, yet for all that, in the
meanwhile, in very sore dread and fear, and peradventure,
in peril inevitable of eternal fire.
Methinketh therefore, Cousin, that, as I told you, this keeping of every
man in this wretched world for execution of death, is a very plain
imprisonment indeed, and that as I say such, that the greatest king
is, in this prison, in much worse case, in all his wealth, than many a
man is by the other imprisonment, that is therein sore and hardly
handled. For where some of those lie not there attainted, nor condemned
to death, the greatest man of this world, and the most wealthy
in this universal prison, is laid in to be kept undoubtedly for death.

But yet, Uncle, in that case, is the other prisoner too; for he is as
sure that he shall die too, pardie.
That is very truth, Cousin, indeed, and well objected too. But then you
must consider, that he is not in danger of death by reason of that
prison into which he is put, peradventure but for a light fray; but his
danger of death is by the other imprisonment, by which he is
prisoner in the great prison of this whole earth, in which prison all
the princes thereof be prisoners as well as he. If a man condemned
to death were put up in a large prison, and while his execution were
respited, he were, for fighting with his fellows, put up in a strait place
(part of the same), he is in danger of death in the strait prison, but
not by the being in that, for therein he is but for the fray, but his
deadly imprisonment was the other (the larger, I say) into which he
was put for death: so the prisoner that you speak of is beside that narrow
prison, a prisoner of the broad world, and all the princes thereof
therein prisoners with him. And by that imprisonment, both they
and he in like danger of death, not by that strait imprisonment that
is commonly called imprisonment, but by that imprisonment
which (because of the large walk) men call it liberty, and
which prison you therefore thought but a fantasy sophistical to prove it
any prison at all. But now may you, methinketh, very plainly perceive
that this whole earth is not only for all the whole kind of man a
very plain prison indeed, but also that every man without exception,
even those that are most at their liberty therein, and reckon themselves
great lords and possessioners of a very great parcel thereof,
and thereby wax with wantonness so forgetful of their own state that

they ween they stand in great wealth, do stand, for all that indeed, by
the reason of their imprisonment in this large prison of the whole
earth, in the selfsame condition that other do stand; which in the
narrow prisons, which only be called prisons, and which only be
reputed prisons in the opinion of the common people, stand in the most
fearful and in the most odious case, that is, to wit, condemned already
to death.
And now, Cousin, if this thing that I tell you seem but a sophistical
fantasy to your mind, I would be glad to know what moveth you so
to think. For in good faith, as I have told you twice, I am no wiser,
but that I verily ween that the thing is thus of very plain truth,
in very deed.
The Twentieth Chapter
In good faith, Uncle, as for this far forth, I not only can make with
any reason no resistance thereagainst, but also see very clearly
proved, that it can be none otherwise; but that every man is in this
world a very prisoner, since we be all put here into a sure hold to be
kept till we be put to execution, as folk already condemned all
unto death. But yet, Uncle, that strait keeping, collaring, bolting, and
stocking, with lying in straw or on the cold ground (which manner
of hard handling is used in these special imprisonments that
only be called commonly by that name), must needs make that imprisonment
which only beareth among the people that name, much
more odious and dreadful, than the general imprisonment wherewith

we be every man universally prisoned at large, walking where we
will round about the wide world. In which broad prison, out of those
narrow prisons, there is with the prisoners no such hard handling
I said, I trow Cousin, that I purposed to prove you further yet, that
in this general prison, the large prison, I mean, of this whole world,
folk be for the time that they be therein as sore handled and as hardly,
and wrenched and wronged and broken in such painful wise, that our
hearts (save that we consider it not) have with reason good and great
cause to grudge against; and (as far forth as pertaineth only to the
respect of pain) as much horror to conceive against the hard handling
that is in this prison, as the other that is in that.
Indeed, Uncle, truth it is that this you said you would prove.
Nay, so much said I not, Cousin, but I said I would if I could, and if I
could not, then would I therein give over my part. But that trust I,
Cousin, I shall not need to do, the thing seemeth me so plain. For,
Cousin, not only the prince and king, but also (though he hath both
angels and devils that are jailers under him, yet) the chief jailer
over this whole broad prison the world, is, as I take it, God. And that, I
suppose, ye will grant me too.
That will I not, Uncle, deny.

If a man be, Cousin, committed to prison, for no cause but to be kept,
though there lie never so great charge upon him, yet his keeper, if
he be good and honest, is neither so cruel that would pain the man
of malice, nor so covetous that would put him to pain to make him
seek his friends to pay for a pennyworth of ease. Else, if the
place be such that he be sure to keep him safe otherwise, or that he
can get surety for the recompense of more harm than he seeth he
should have, if he escaped; he will never handle him in any such hard
fashion as we most abhor imprisonment for. But marry, if the place
be such as the keeper cannot otherwise be sure, then is he compelled
to keep him after the rate the straiter.
And also, if the prisoner be unruly, and fall to fighting with his
fellows, or do some other manner of shrewd turns, then useth the
keeper to punish him sundry wise in some of such fashions as yourself
have spoken of.
So is it now, Cousin, that God, the chief jailer, as I say, of this
broad prison the world, is neither cruel nor covetous. And this
prison is also so sure and so subtly built, that albeit that it lieth open
on every side without any wall in the world, yet wander we never
so far about therein, the way to get out at shall we never find:
so that he needeth not to collar us, nor to stock us, for any fear of escaping
away. And therefore (except he see some other cause than our
only keeping for death), he letteth us in the meanwhile (for as long as
he list to respite us) walk about in the prison, and do therein what we will,
using ourselves in such wise, as he hath (by reason and revelation) from
time to time told us his pleasure.
And hereof it cometh, lo, that by reason of this favor for a time
we wax, as I said, so wanton, that we forget where we be; weening

that we were lords at large, whereas we be indeed (if we would consider
it) even silly poor wretches in prison. For of truth, our
very prison this earth is: and yet thereof we cant us out (part by covenants
that we make among us, and part by fraud, and part
by violence too) divers parts diversely to ourselves, and change the
name thereof from the odious name of prison, and call it our own land
and livelihood.
Upon our prison we build our prison; we garnish it with gold, and
make it glorious. In this prison they buy and sell, in this prison they
brawl and chide, in this they run together and fight; in this they dice,
in this they card, in this they pipe and revel, in this they sing and
dance. And in this prison many a man reputed right honest, letteth
not for his pleasure in the dark privily to play the knave.
And thus while God the king, and our chief jailer too, suffereth us
and letteth us alone, we ween ourselves at liberty, and we abhor the
state of those whom we call prisoners, taking ourselves for no prisoners
at all.
In which false persuasion of wealth, and forgetfulness of our own
wretched state (which is but a wandering about for a while in this
prison of the world, till we be brought unto the execution of death),
where we forget with our folly both ourselves and our jail, and our under
jailers, angels and devils both, and our chief jailer God too, God
that forgetteth not us, but seeth us all the while well enough, and being
sore discontent too, to see so shrewd rule kept in the jail (beside that
he sendeth the hangman death, to put to execution here and there, sometimes
by the thousands at once), he handleth many of the remnant,
whose execution he forbeareth yet unto a farther time, even

as hardly, and punisheth them as sore in this common prison of the
world, as there are any handled in those special prisons, which for
the hard handling used (you say) therein, your heart hath in such
horror, and so sore abhorreth.
The remnant will I not again say; for methinketh I see it so indeed.
But that God, our chief jailer in this world, useth
any such prisonly fashion of punishment, that point must I needs
deny. For I neither see him lay any man in the stocks, or strike fetters
on his legs, or so much as shut him up in a chamber
Is he no minstrel, Cousin, that playeth not on an harp? Maketh
no man melody, but he that playeth on a lute? He may be a minstrel
and make melody, you wot well, with some other instrument, some
strange-fashioned, peradventure, that never was seen before. God our
chief jailer, as himself is invisible so useth he in his punishments
invisible instruments: and therefore not of like fashion as the
other jailers do, but yet of like effect, and as painful in feeling, as
those. For he layeth one of his prisoners with an hot fever, as evil at
his ease in a warm bed, as the other jailer layeth, his on the cold
ground. He wringeth them by the brows with a megrim, he collareth
them by the neck with a quinsy, he bolteth them by the arms
with a palsy, that they cannot lift their hands to their head:
he manacleth their hands with the gout in their fingers, he wringeth
them by the legs with a cramp in their shins, he bindeth

them to the bed-board with the crick in the back, and layeth one there
along, and as unable to rise, as though he lay by the feet fast in the
Some prisoner of another jail singeth, danceth in his two
fetters, and feareth not his feet for stumbling at a stone; while God's
prisoner, that hath his one foot fettered with the gout, lieth groaning
on a couch, and quaketh and crieth out, if he fear there would fall on
his foot no more but a cushion. And therefore, Cousin, as I said, if
we consider it well, we shall find this general prison of the whole
earth a place in which the prisoners be as sore handled as
they be in the other. And even in the other, some make as merry
too, as there do some in this that are very merry at large out of that.
And surely, like as we ween ourselves out of prison now; so if there
were some folk born and brought up in a prison, that never came on
the wall, nor looked out of the door, nor never heard of other world
abroad, but saw some, for shrewd turns done among themselves,
locked up in some straiter room, and heard them only called prisoners
that were so served, and themselves ever called free folk at large; the
like opinion would they have there of themselves then, that we have
here of ourselves now. And when we take ourselves for other than
prisoners now, as verily be we now deceived, as those prisoners should
there be then.
I cannot, Uncle, in good faith, say nay, but that you have performed
all that you have promised. But yet since that for all this there appeareth
no more, but that as they be prisoners, so be we too; and that as
some of them be sore handled, so be some of us too; since we wot well
for all this, that when we come to those prisons, we shall not fail to be
in a straiter prison than we be now, and to have a door shut upon us

where we have none shut on us now, this shall we be sure of at the
leastwise, if there come no worse; and then may there come worse,
you wot well, it cometh there so commonly: wherefore for all this, it is
yet little marvel though men's hearts grudge much thereagainst.
Surely, Cousin, in this you say very well. Howbeit somewhat had
your words touched me the nearer, if I had said that imprisonment
were no displeasure at all. But the thing that I say, Cousin, for our
comfort therein is, that our fantasy frameth us a false opinion, by
which we deceive ourselves, and take it for sorer than it is.
And that do we by the reason that we take ourselves before, for more free
than we be, and imprisonment for a stranger thing to us than it is indeed.
And thus far forth as I said have I proved truth indeed. But
now the incommodities that you repeat again (those, I say, that are
proper to imprisonment of their own nature, that is, to wit, to have
less room to walk in, and to have the door shut upon us) these are, methinketh,
so very slender and slight, that in so great a cause as to
suffer for God's sake, we might be sore ashamed so much as once to
think upon them.
Many a good man there is, you wot well, which without any force
at all, or any necessity wherefore he should so do, suffereth these two things
willingly of his own choice, with much other hardness more, holy
monks, I mean, of the Charterhouse order, such as never pass their
cells, but only to the church set fast by their cells, and thence to
their cells again; and Saint Bridget's order; and St. Clare's much like,
and, in a manner all close religious houses. And yet anchorites and anchoresses
most especially, all whose whole room is less than a meetly
large chamber; and yet are they there as well content many long

years together, as are other men, and better too, that walk about the
world. And therefore you may see, that the loathness of less room, and
the door shut upon us, while so many folk are so well content
therewith, and will for God's love live so to choose, is but an horror
enhanced of our own fantasy.
And indeed I wist a woman once, that came into a prison
to visit of her charity a poor prisoner there, whom she found in a
chamber (to say the truth) meetly fair, and at the leastwise it was
strong enough. But with mats of straw the prisoner had made it
so warm, both under the feet and round about the walls, that in these
things for the keeping of his health she was on his behalf glad and very
well comforted. But among many other displeasures that for his sake
she was sorry for, one she lamented much in her mind, that he should
have the chamber door upon him by night made fast by the jailer
that should shut him in. For by my troth, quoth she, if the door should
be shut upon me, I would ween it would stop up my breath. At that
word of hers, the prisoner laughed in his mind; but he durst not
laugh aloud, nor say nothing to her, for somewhat indeed he stood
in awe of her, and had his finding there much part of her charity for
alms; but he could not but laugh inwardly, while he wist well
enough that she used on the inside to shut every night full surely her
own chamber to her, both door and windows too, and used not to open
them of all the long night. And what difference then, as to the stopping
of the breath, whether they were shut up within, or without? And
so surely, Cousin, these two things that you speak of, are neither other
of so great weight, that in Christ's cause ought to move a Christian
man, and the one of the twain is so very a childish fantasy, that
in a matter almost of three chips (but if it were in chance of fire)
never should move any man.
As for those other accidents of hard handling therein, so mad am

I not to say they be no grief; but I say, that our fear may imagine
them much greater grief than they be. And I say, that such
as they be, many a man endureth them; yea and many a woman too,
that after fare full well. And then would I wit what determination we
take, whether for our Savior's sake to suffer some pain in our bodies
(since he suffered in his blessed body so great pains for us) or else to give
him warning to be at a point, rather utterly to forsake him than
suffer any pain at all. He that cometh in his mind unto this latter
point (from which kind of unkindness God keep every man!) comfort
he none needeth, for he will flee the need; and counsel, I fear, availeth
him little, if grace be so far gone from him. But on the other
side, if rather than forsake our Savior, we determine ourselves to
suffer any pain at all; I cannot then see that the fear of hard
handling should any thing stick with us, and make us so to shrink, as
we rather would forsake his faith, than to suffer for his sake so much as
imprisonment; since the handling is neither such in prison, but that
many men many years, and many women too, live therewith and sustain
it, and afterward yet fare full well. And yet that it may well fortune,
that beside the very bare imprisonment, there shall hap us no
hard handling at all, nor that same haply but for a short while
neither, and yet beside all this peradventure not at all. And especially
since, which of all these ways shall be taken with us, lieth all in his will
for whom we be content to take it, and which for that mind of ours
favoreth us, and will suffer no man to put more pain unto us
than he well wotteth we shall be well able to bear. For he will give us
the strength thereto himself, as you have heard his promise already
by the mouth of St. Paul, "Fidelis Deus, qui non patitur vos tentari supra id
quod potestis ferre, sed dat etiam cum tentatione proventum" (God is faithful,

which suffereth you not to be tempted above that you may bear, but
giveth also with the temptation a way out). But now if we have not
lost our faith already, before we come to forsake it for fear; we know
very well by our faith, that by the forsaking of our faith, we fall into
the state to be cast into the prison of hell, and that can we not tell how
soon. But as it may be, that God will suffer us to live a while here upon
earth, so may it be, that he will throw us into that dungeon beneath, before
the time that the Turk shall once ask us the question. And
therefore if we fear imprisonment so sore, we be much more than mad
that we fear not most for the more sore. For out of that prison shall
no man never get, and in this other shall no man abide but a while.
In prison was Joseph, while his brethren were at large, and yet afterward
were his brethren fain to seek upon him for bread.
In prison was Daniel, and the wild lions about him: and yet even
here God kept him harmless, and brought him safe out again.
If we think, that he will not do the likewise for us, let us not doubt
but he will do for us either the like, or better. For better may
he do for us, if he suffer us there to die. St. John the Baptist was, you
wot well, in prison, while Herod and Herodias sat full merry at the
feast, and the daughter of Herodias delighted them with her dancing,
till with her dancing, she danced off St. John's head. And now sitteth
he with great feast in heaven at God's board, while Herod and Herodias
full heavily sit in hell burning both twain, and to make them
sport withal, the devil with the damsel dance in the fire before
Finally, Cousin, to finish this piece with, our Savior was himself
taken prisoner for our sake, and prisoner was he carried, and prisoner
was he kept, and prisoner was he brought forth before Annas. And
prisoner from Annas carried unto Caiaphas. Then prisoner was he
carried from Caiaphas unto Pilate, and prisoner was he sent from Pilate

to King Herod: prisoner from Herod unto Pilate again. And so kept
as prisoner to the end of his Passion.
The time of his imprisonment, I grant well, was not long; but as
for hard handling (which our hearts most abhor) he had as much in
that short while, as many men among them all in much longer time.
And surely then, if we consider of what estate he was, and therewith
that he was prisoner in such wise for our sake, we shall I trow (but
if we be worse than wretched beasts) never so shamefully play the unkind
cowards, as for fear of imprisonment sinfully to forsake him;
nor so foolish neither, as by forsaking of him, to give him the
occasion again to forsake us, and with the avoiding of an
easier prison, fall into a worse, and instead of a prison that cannot keep
us long, fall into that prison, out of which we can never come, where
the short imprisonment would win us everlasting liberty.
The fear of shameful and painful death.
The Twenty-first Chapter
Forsooth, Uncle (our Lord reward you therefor!) if we feared not further
besides imprisonment the terrible dart of shameful and painful death;
as for imprisonment, I would verily trust, that remembering these
things, which I have here heard of you, rather than I should forsake
the faith of our Savior, I would with the help of grace never shrink
thereat. But now are we come, Uncle, with much work at the last,
unto the last and uttermost point, of the dread that maketh "incursum
et demonium meridianum" (this incursion of this midday devil), this
open invasion of the Turk, and his persecution against the faith, seem

so terrible to men's minds, that although the respect of God vanquisheth
all the remnant of the troubles that we have hitherto
perused, as loss of goods, lands and liberty, yet when we remember
the terror of shameful and painful death, that point so suddenly putteth
us in oblivion of all that should be our comfort, that we feel (all men I
fear me for the most part) the fervor of our faith wax so cold, and
our hearts so faint, that we feel ourselves at the point to fall even
therefrom for fear.
To this I say not nay, Cousin, but that indeed in this point is the
sore pinch. And yet you see for all this, that even this point
too taketh increase or diminishment of dread after the difference of
the affections that are before fixed and rooted in the mind, so far forth,
that you see some man set so much by his worldly substance, that he
less feareth the loss of his life than the loss of lands: yea some man
shall you see that abideth deadly torment, and such as some other had
lever die than endure, rather than he would bring forth the money
that he hath hid.
And I doubt not but you have heard of many by right antique
stories, that (some for one cause, some for other) have not letted
willingly to suffer death, divers in divers kinds: and some both with
despiteful rebuke and painful torment too. And therefore, as I say,
we may see, that the affections of men's minds toward the increase or
decrease of dread, maketh much of the matter.
Now are the affections of men's minds imprinted by divers
means. One way, by the means of the bodily senses moved by such
things, pleasant or displeasant, as are outwardly through sensible

worldly things offered and objected unto them. And this manner of
receiving the impression of affections is common unto men and beasts. Another
manner of receiving affections, is by the means of reason,
which both ordinately tempereth those affections, that the bodily
five wits imprint, and also disposeth a man many times to some
spiritual virtues, very contrary to those affections that are fleshly and
sensual. And those reasonable dispositions been the affections
spiritual and proper to the nature of man, and above the nature of beast.
Now as our ghostly enemy the devil enforceth himself to make
us lean unto the sensual affections and beastly; so doth Almighty God
of his goodness by his Holy Spirit inspire us good motions, with aid and
help of his grace, toward the other affections spiritual, and
by sundry means instructeth our reason to lean unto them, and not
only to receive them as engendered and planted in our soul, but also in
such wise water them with the wise advertisement of godly counsel
and continual prayer, that they may be habitually radicate, and
surely take deep root therein. And, after as the one kind of affection or
the other beareth the strength in our heart, so be we stronger or feebler
against the terror of death in this cause.
And therefore will we, Cousin, assay to consider, what things there are
for which we have cause in reason to master that affection fearful
and sensual and though we cannot clean avoid it and put it away, yet in
such wise to bridle it at the least that it run not out so far, like an
headstrong horse, that spite of our teeth it carry us out unto the
Let us therefore now consider and well weigh this thing that we dread so
sore, that is to wit, shameful and painful death.

Of death, considered by itself alone,
as a bare leaving of this life only.
The Twenty-second Chapter
And first, I perceive well by these two things that you join unto
death, that is to wit, shameful and painful; you would esteem death so
much the less, if he should come alone without either shame or
Without doubt, Uncle, a great deal the less. But yet though he should
come without them both by himself; whatsoever I would, I wot
well, many a man would be for all that, very loath to die.
That I believe well, Cousin, and the more pity it is. For that affection
happeth in very few, but that either the cause is lack of faith, lack of
hope, or finally lack of wit. They that believe not the life to
come after this, and ween themselves here in wealth, are loath to leave
this; for then they think they lose all. And thereof cometh the
manifold foolish unfaithful words, which are so rife in over many
mouths. This world we know, and the other we know not, and that
some say in sport and think in earnest, The devil is not so black as he is
painted, and, let him be as black as he will, he is no blacker than a crow,
with many other such foolish fantasies of the same sort.
Some that believe well enough, yet through the lewdness of living,
fall out of good hope of salvation, and then though they be loath to die,
I very little marvel. Howbeit, some that purpose to mend, and would

fain have some time left them longer to bestow somewhat better,
may peradventure be loath to die also by and by. And that manner
loathness (albeit a very good will gladly to die, and to be with God, were
in my mind so thankful that it were well able to purchase as full
remission both of sin and pain, as peradventure he were like if he
lived to purchase in many years' penance), yet will I not say, but
that such kind of loathness to die may be before God allowable. Some
are there also, that are loath to die, that are yet very glad to die, and
long for to be dead.
That were, Uncle, a very strange case.
The case, I fear me, Cousin, falleth not very often, but yet sometimes
it doth. As where there is any man of that good mind that St.
Paul was, which for the longing that he had to be with God, would
fain have been dead, but for the profit of other folk was content to
live here in pain, and defer and forbear for the while his
inestimable bliss in heaven. "Cupio dissolui et esse com Christo: bonum
autem mihi manere propter vos." But of all these kinds, Cousin, of folks
that are loath to die (except the first kind only that lacketh faith),
there is, I suppose, none but that except the fear of shame, or sharp
pain joined unto death, should be the let, would else for the bare
respect of death alone, let to depart hence with good will in this case
of the faith, well witting by his faith, that his death taken for the
faith should cleanse him clean of all his sins, and send him straight to
heaven. And some of these (namely the last kind) are such, that
shame and pain both joined unto death were unlikely to make them

loathe death, or fear death so sore, but that they would suffer death in this
case with good will, since they know well that the refusing of the
faith for any cause in this world (were the cause never so good in
sight) should yet sever them from God, with whom (save for other folks'
profit) they so fain would be. And charity can it not be, for the
profit of the whole world, deadly to displease him that made it. Some
are there, I say also, that are loath to die for lack of wit, which albeit
that they believe the world that is to come, and hope also to come
thither, yet they love so much the wealth of this world, and such things
as delight them therein, that they would fain keep them as long as ever
they might, even with tooth and nail. And when they may be suffered
in no wise to keep it no longer, but that death taketh them therefrom;
then if it may be no better, they will agree to be (as soon as they be
hence) hanced up in heaven, and be with God by and by.
These folk are as very idiot fools, as he that had kept from his
childhood a bag full of cherrystones, and cast such a fantasy thereto,
that he would not go from it, for a bigger bag filled full of
These folk fare, Cousin, as Aesop telleth a fable that the snail did.
For when Jupiter (whom the poets feign for the great God)
invited all poor worms of the earth to a great solemn feast that
it pleased him (I have forgotten upon what occasion) upon a time
to prepare for them, the snail kept her at home and would not come
thereat. And when Jupiter asked her after, wherefore she came not at
his feast, where he said she should have been welcome, and have fared
well, and should have seen a goodly palace, and been delighted with many
goodly pleasures: she answered him, that she loved no place so well
as her own house. With which answer Jupiter waxed so angry, that
he said, since she loved her house so well, she should never after go
from home, but should always bear her house upon her back, wheresoever

she went. And so hath she done ever since, as they say, and at
the leastwise I wot well she doth so now, and hath done as long time
as I can remember.
Forsooth, Uncle, I would ween the tale were not all feigned. For I think
verily, that so much of your tale is true.
Aesop meant by that feigned fable to touch the folly of such folk,
as so set their fantasy upon some small simple pleasure, that they
cannot find in their hearts to forbear it, neither for the pleasure of
a better man, nor for the gaining of a better thing. By which their
fond froward fashion they sometimes fall in great indignation, and
take thereby no little harm.
And surely such Christian folk as by their foolish affection,
which they have set like the snail upon their own house here in
this earth, cannot for the loathness of leaving that house, find
in their heart with their good will to go to the great feast that God
prepareth in heaven, and of his goodness so gently calleth them to, be
like, I fear me (but if they mend that mind in time), to be served as
the snail was, and yet much worse too. For they be like to have their
house here (the earth), bound fast upon their backs forever, and not
walk therewith where they will, as the snail creepeth about with hers,
but lie fast bound in the midst with the foul fire of hell about
For into this folly they bring themselves by their own fault, as the
drunken man bringeth himself into drunkenness, whereby the evil
that he doth in his drunkenness is not forgiven him for his folly, but
to his pain imputed to his fault.

Surely, Uncle, this seemeth not unlikely, and by their fault they fall in
such folly indeed. And yet if this be folly indeed, there are then
some folk fools, that ween themselves right wise.
That ween themselves wise? Marry, I never saw fool yet that
thought himself other than wise. For as it is one spark of soberness
left in a drunken head, when he perceiveth himself drunk, and getteth
him fair to bed, so if a fool perceive himself a fool, that point
is no folly but a little spark of wit. But now, Cousin, as for these kind
of follies, since they be loath to die for the love that they bear to their
worldly fantasies, which they should by their death leave behind them
and forsake; they that would for that cause rather forsake the faith than
die would rather forsake it than lose their worldly goods, though
there were offered them no peril of death at all. And then as touching
those that are of that mind, we have, you wot well, said as
much as yourself thought sufficient this afternoon here before.
Verily, Uncle, that is very true; and now have you rehearsed, as far as I
can remember, all the other kinds of them that would be loath to die
for any other respect, than the grievous qualities of shame and pain
joined unto death. And of all these kinds, except the kind of
infidelity, whom no comfort can help, but counsel only to
the attaining of faith, which faith must be to the receiving of comfort
presupposed and had ready before, as you showed in the beginning of
our communication the first day that we talked of the matter; but else, I
say, except that one kind, there is none of the remnant of those
that were before untouched which were likely to forsake their faith

in the persecution for the fear and dread of death, save for those
grievous qualities (pain I mean, and shame), that they see well would
come therewith. And therefore, Uncle, I pray you give us some comfort
against those twain. For in good faith, if death should come without
them in such a case as this is wherein by the losing of this life we
should find a far better; mine own reason giveth me, that save for
the other griefs going before the change, there would no man
that wit hath, anything stick at all.
Yes (peradventure) suddenly before they gather their wits unto
them, and therewith well weigh the matter. But they, Cousin, that will
consider the matter well, reason grounded upon the foundation of
faith, shall show them very great substantial causes, for which the
dread of those grievous qualities that they see shall come with death
(shame, I mean, and pain also) shall not so sore abash
them, as sinfully to drive them therefrom. For the proof whereof let us
first begin at the consideration of the shame.
Of the shame that is joined with the death in the
persecution for the faith.
The Twenty-third Chapter
How can any faithful wise man dread the death so sore for any
respect of shame, when his reason and his faith together may shortly
make him perceive, that there is therein no piece of very shame at
all? For how can that death be shameful that is glorious? Or how can
that be but glorious to die for the faith of Christ (if we die both for
the faith, and in the faith joined with hope and charity), while the scripture

so plainly saith, "Pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors sanctorum eius"
(Precious is in the sight of God, the death of his saints). Now if the
death of his saints be glorious in the sight of God, it can never be
shameful in very deed, how shameful soever it seem here in the
sight of men. For here we may see and be sure, that not at the
death of Saint Stephen only (to whom it liked him to show himself
with the heaven open over his head) but at the death also of every man
that so dieth for the faith, God with his heavenly company beholdeth
his whole passion, and verily looketh on.
Now if it were so, Cousin, that ye should be brought through the broad
high street of a great long city, and that all along the way that ye
were going, there were on the one side of the way a rabble of ragged
beggars and madmen that would despise you and dispraise you with all
the shameful names that they could call you, and all the railing
words that they could say to you: and that there were then all along
the other side of the same street where you should come by
a goodly company standing in a fair range, a row of wise and
worshipful folk, allowing and commending you, more than fifteen
times as many as that rabble of ragged beggars and railing madmen
are: would you let your way by your will, weening that you went unto
your shame for the shameful jesting and railing of those mad
foolish wretches, or hold on your way with a good cheer and a glad
heart, thinking yourself much honored by the laud and approbation
of that other honorable sort?
Nay by my troth, Uncle, there is no doubt, but I would much regard
the commendation of those commendable folk, and not regard a rush the
railing of all those ribalds.

Then, Cousin, can there no man that hath faith, account himself
shamed here by any manner death that he suffereth for the faith of
Christ, while how vile and how shameful soever it seem in the sight
here of a few worldly wretches, it is allowed and approved for very
precious and honorable in the sight of God, and all the glorious
company of heaven, which as perfectly stand and behold it, as those
peevish people do, and are in number more than an hundred to one:
and of that hundred, every one an hundred times more to be
regarded and esteemed, than of the other an hundred such whole
rabbles. And now if a man would be so mad, as for fear of the rebuke
that he should have of such rebukeful beasts, he would be ashamed to
confess the faith of Christ: then with fleeing from a shadow
of shame, he should fall into a very shame and a deadly painful shame
indeed. For then hath our Savior made a sure promise, that he will
show himself ashamed of that man before the Father of heaven and all
his holy angels, saying in the ninth chapter of St. Luke: "Qui me
erubuerit et meos sermones, hunc Filius Hominis erubescet, cum venerit in
majestate sua, et Patris, et sanctorum Angelorum" (He that is ashamed of me
and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when
he shall come in the majesty of himself, and of his Father, and of his
holy angels.) And what manner a shameful shame shall that be then?
If a man's cheeks glow sometimes for shame in this world, they
will fall on fire for shame when Christ shall show himself ashamed
of them there.
To suffer the thing for Christ's faith, that we worldly wretched fools
ween were villainy and shame, the blessed apostles reckoned for great
glory. For they, when they were with despite and shame scourged, and
thereupon commanded to speak no more of the name of Christ,

went their way from the council joyful and glad that God had vouchsafed
to do them the worship, to suffer shameful despite for the name
of Jesus. And so proud were they of that shame and villainous pain
put unto them, that for all the forbidding of that great council
assembled, they ceased not every day to preach out the name of
Jesus still, not in the Temple only, out of which they were fetched and
whipped for the same before, but also, to double it with, went preaching
that name about from house to house too.
I would, since we regard so greatly the estimation of worldly folk,
we would among many naughty things that they use, regard also
some such as are good. For it is a manner among them in many
places, that some by handicraft, some by merchandise, some by
other kind of living, arise and come forward in the world. And commonly
folk are in youth set forth to convenient masters, under whom they
are brought up and grow. But now whensoever they find a servant
such, as he disdaineth to do such things as he, that is his master, did
while he was servant himself; that servant every man
accounteth for a proud unthrift, never like to come to good
Let us, lo, mark and consider this, and weigh well therewithal, that our
master Christ, not the master only, but the maker too of all this
whole world, was not so proud to disdain for our sakes the most
villainous and most shameful death after the worldly account that then was
used in the world, and the most despiteful mocking therewith
joined to most grievous pain, as crowning him with sharp thorn
that the blood ran down about his face: then they gave him a
reed in his hand for a scepter, and kneeled down to him, and saluted

him like a king in scorn, and beat then the reed upon the sharp
thorns about his holy head. Now saith our Savior, that the
disciple or servant is not above his master. And therefore since our
master endured so many kinds of painful shame, very proud
beasts may we well think ourselves, if we disdain to do
as our master did: and whereas he through shame ascended into
glory, we would be so mad, that we rather will fall into everlasting
shame, both before heaven and hell, than for fear of a short worldly
shame, to follow him into everlasting glory.
Of painful death to be suffered in the Turk's
persecution for the faith.
The Twenty-fourth Chapter
In good faith, Uncle, as for the shame, ye shall need to take no
more pain. For I suppose surely, that any man that hath reason in his
head shall hold himself satisfied with this. But of truth, Uncle, all
the pinch is in the pain. For as for shame, I perceive well enough,
a man may with wisdom so master it, that it shall nothing move
him at all, so far forth, that it is almost in every country become a
common proverb, that shame is as it is taken. But by God, Uncle,
all the wisdom in this world can never so master pain, but that
pain will be painful, spite of all the wit in this world.
Truth it is, Cousin, that no man can with all the reason he hath,
in such wise change the nature of pain, that in the having of

pain he feel it not. For, but if it be felt, it is pardie, no pain. And
that is the natural cause, Cousin, for which a man may have his leg
stricken off by the knee and grieve him not, if his head be off but half
an hour before. But reason may make a reasonable man (though he
would not be so foolish as causeless to fall therein) yet upon good causes,
either of gaining some kind of great profit, or avoiding
of some great loss, or eschewing thereby the suffering of far greater
pain, not to shrink therefrom, and refuse it to his more hurt and harm,
but for his far greater advantage and commodity, content and glad to
sustain it. And this doth reason alone in many cases, where it
hath much less help to take hold of, than it hath in this matter of
faith. For well you wot, to take a sour and a bitter potion is great
grief and displeasure, and to be lanced and to have the flesh cut
is no little pain. Now when such things shall be ministered unto a
child, or to some childish man either, they will by their own wills
rather let their sickness or their sore grow unto their more grief till it
become incurable, than abide the pain of the curing in time,
and that for faint heart, joined with lack of discretion. But a man
that hath more wisdom, though he would without cause no more
abide the pain willingly, than would the other: yet since reason
showeth him what good he shall have by the suffering, and what
harm by the refusing, this maketh him well content, and glad also
for to take it.
Now then, if reason alone be sufficient to move a man to take
pain for the gaining of some worldly rest or pleasure, and for the
avoiding of another pain, though peradventure more, yet
endurable but for a short season: why should not reason grounded
upon the sure foundation of faith, and helped also forward with

aid of God's grace (as it ever is undoubtedly, when folk for a good
mind in God's name common together thereon, our Savior
saying himself: "Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi et ego
sum in medio eorum" (Where there are two or three gathered together
in my name, there am I also even in the very midst of them), why
should not then reason, I say, thus furthered with faith and grace, be much
more able first to engender in us such an affection, and after by
long and deep meditation thereof, so to continue that affection, that it
shall turn into an habitual fast and deep-rooted purpose of patient
suffering the painful death of this body here in earth, for the gaining
of everlasting wealthy life in heaven, and avoiding of everlasting
painful death in hell?
By my troth, Uncle, words can I none find that should have any
reason with them (faith always presupposed, as you protested in the
beginning for a ground), words, I say, can I none find, wherewith I
might reasonably counterplead this that you have said here already.
But yet I remember the fable that Aesop telleth of a great old hart
that had fled from a little bitch, which had made sure after him, and
chased him so long that she had lost him, and as he hoped, more than
half given him over. By occasion whereof, having then some time
to talk, and meeting with another of his fellows, he fell in deliberation
with him, what were best for him to do, whether to run on still and
fly further from her, or turn again and fight with her. Whereunto
the other hart advised him to flee no further lest the bitch might
happen to find him again, at such time as he should with the labor
of farther flying be fallen out of breath and thereby all out of strength
too, and so should he be killed lying where he could not stir him, whereas
if he would turn and fight he were in no peril at all. For the man

with whom she hunteth is more than a mile behind her, and she is
but a little body scant half so much as thou, and thy horns may thrust
her through before she can touch thy flesh by more than ten times her
tooth length. By my troth, quoth the other hart, I like your
counsel well, and methink that the thing is even soothly such as
you say. But I fear me, when I hear once that urchin bitch bark, I
shall fall to my feet and forget altogether. But yet and you will go
back with me, then methink we shall be strong enough against that
one bitch, between us both. Whereunto the other hart agreed, and so
they both appointed them thereon. But even as they were about
to bask them forward to it, the bitch had found the foot again, and
on she come yearning toward the place, whom as soon as the harts
heard, they to go both twain apace.
And in good faith, Uncle, even so I fear me, it would fare by myself and
many other too, which though we think it reason that you say, and
in our minds agree that we should do as you say, yea and do peradventure
think also, that we would indeed do as ye say: yet as soon as we
should once hear these hell hounds, these Turks come yelping and
bawling upon us, our hearts should soon fall as clean from us, as
those other harts flee from the hounds.
(Here it must be known of some man that con skill of hunting,
whether that we mistake not our terms. For then are we utterly
ashamed, ye wot well. And I am so cunning, that I cannot tell whether
among them a bitch be a bitch or no, but as I remember, she is no
bitch, but a brach. This is an high point in a low house. Beware of
barking, for there lacketh another hunting term. At a fox it is

called crying. I wot not what they call it at an hart, but it shall make
no matter of a fart.)
Cousin, in those days that Aesop speaketh of, though those harts
and other brute beasts more, had (if he say sooth) the power to speak and
talk, and in their talking, power to talk reason too: yet to follow reason,
and rule themselves thereby, thereto had they never given them the
power. And in good faith, Cousin, as for such things as pertain
toward the conducting of reasonable men to salvation, I think without
help of grace, men's reasoning shall do little more. But then
are we sure, as I said before, that as for grace, if we desire it, God is
at such reasoning always present, and very ready to give it: and but if that
men will afterward willingly cast it away, he is ever still as ready to
keep it, and from time to time glad to increase it. And therefore biddeth
us our Lord by the mouth of the Prophet, that we should not
be like such brutish and unreasonable beasts, as were those harts,
and as are horses and mules. "Nolite fieri sicut equus et mulus, in quibus
non est intellectus" (Be not you like an horse and a mule, that hath no
understanding.) And therefore, Cousin, let us never dread but that if
we will apply our minds to the gathering of comfort and courage
against such persecutions, and hear reason, and let it sink into our heart,
and cast it not out again, vomit it not up, nor even there choke it
up and stifle it with pampering in and stuffing up our stomachs with
a surfeit of worldly vanities: God shall so well work therewith, that
we shall feel great strength therein and not in such wise have all such shameful
cowardous hearts, as to forsake our Savior, and thereby lose our own
salvation, and run into eternal fire for fear of death joined therewith,
though bitter and sharp, yet short for all that, and in a manner a
momentary pain.

Every man, Uncle, naturally grudgeth at pain, and is very loath to come
at it.
That is very truth, nor no man biddeth any man to go run into
it. But that if he be taken, and may not flee, then we say that reason
plainly telleth us, that we should rather suffer and endure the less and
shorter here, than in hell the sorer, and so far the longer too.
I heard, Uncle, of late, where such a reason was made, as you make me
now, which reason seemeth undoubted and inevitable unto me:
yet heard I late, as I say, a man answer it thus. He said, that if a man
in this persecution should stand still in the confession of his faith, and
thereby fall into painful tormentry he might peradventure hap
for the sharpness and bitterness of the pain, to forsake our Savior
even in the midst, and die there with his sin, and so be damned
for ever; whereas by the forsaking of the faith in the beginning
betimes, and for the time, and yet not but in word neither, keeping it still
nevertheless in his heart, a man may save himself from that painful
death, and after ask mercy, and have it, and live long, and do many good
deeds, and be saved as St. Peter was.
That man's reason, Cousin, is like a three-footed stool, so tottering on
every side that whoso sit thereon may soon take a foul fall. For
these are the three feet of this tottering stool: fantastical fear,
false faith, false flattering hope. First, it is a fantastical fear, that the
man conceiveth that it should be perilous to stand in the confession
of the faith at the beginning, lest he might afterward through the
bitterness of pain fall to the forsaking, and so die there in the pain

therewith out of hand, and thereby be utterly damned: as though that,
if a man by pain were overcome, and so forsook his faith, God
could not, or would not, as well give him grace to repent again, and
thereupon give him forgiveness, as him that forsook his faith in the
beginning, and did set so little by him, that he would rather forsake
him than suffer for his sake any manner pain at all: as though the
more pain that a man taketh for God's sake, the worse would God be
to him.
If this reason were not unreasonable, then should our Savior not
have said, as he did: "Ne terreamini ab his qui occidunt corpus, et post hac
non habent amplius quid faciant" (Be not afeard of them that kill the
body, and after that have nothing that they can do farther).
For he should by this reason have said: Dread and fear them that may
slay the body; for they may by the torment of painful death (but
if thou forsake me betimes in the beginning and so save thy life, and
get of me thy pardon and forgiveness after) make thee peradventure
forsake me too late, and so to be damned forever.
The second foot of this tottering stool, is a false faith. For it is but
a feigned faith for a man to say to God secretly that he believeth him,
trusteth him, and loveth him; and then openly, where he should to God's
honor tell the same tale, and thereby prove that he doth so, there to
God's dishonor (as much as in him is) flatter God's enemies, and
do them pleasure and worldly worship, with the forsaking of God's
faith before the world: and he is either faithless in his heart too, or else wotteth
well that he doth God this despite, even before his own face. For
except he lack faith, he cannot but know that our Lord is everywhere
present; and while he so shamefully forsaketh him, full angrily looketh
The third foot of this tottering stool, is false flattering hope. For since
the thing that he doth, when he forsaketh his faith for fear, is by the

mouth of God (upon the pain of eternal death) forbidden, though
the goodness of God forgiveth many folk the fault, yet to be
the bolder in offending for the hope of forgiving, is a very false
pestilent hope, wherewith a man flattereth himself toward his own
He that in a sudden braid for fear, or other affection unadvisedly
falleth and after in laboring to rise again, comforteth himself
with hope of God's gracious forgiveness walketh in the ready way toward
his salvation. But he that, with the hope of God's
mercy to follow, doth encourage himself to sin, and therewith offendeth
God first (I have no power to shut the hand of God from giving out
his pardon where he list, nor would, if I could, but rather help to pray
therefor, but yet) I very sore fear, that such a man may miss the grace
to require it in such effectual wise, as to have it granted. Nor I
cannot suddenly now remember any example or promise expressed in
holy scripture, that the offender in such a kind shall have the grace
offered after in such wise to seek for pardon that God hath (by his other
promises of remission promised to penitents) bound himself to
grant it. But this kind of presumption under the pretext of hope,
seemeth rather to draw near on the one side as despair doth on the
other side, toward the abominable sin of blasphemy against
the Holy Ghost. Against which sin concerning either the
impossibility, or, at the least, the great difficulty of forgiveness, our
Savior hath showed himself in the twelfth chapter of Saint Matthew, and
in the third chapter of St. Mark, where he saith, that blasphemy
against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, neither in this world,
nor in the world to come. And where the man that you spoke of, take
in his reason an example of St. Peter which forsook our Savior, and got
forgiveness after; let him consider again on the other side, that he
forsook him not upon the boldness of any such sinful trust, but

was overcome and vanquished upon a sudden fear. And yet by
that forsaking St. Peter won but little. For he did but delay his
trouble but a little while, you wot well. For beside that he repented
forthwith very sore that he had so done, and wept therefor by
and by full bitterly, he came forth at the Whitsuntide ensuing, and confessed
his master again, and soon after that he was imprisoned therefore
and not ceasing so, was thereupon scourged for the confession of
his faith, and yet after that imprisoned again afresh; and being
from thence delivered, stinted not to preach on still, until that after
manifold labors, travails and troubles, he was at Rome crucified, and
with cruel torment slain.
And in like wise I ween, I might in a manner well warrant that there
should no man (which denieth our Savior once, and after attaineth remission)
escape through that denying, one penny the better cheap, but
that he shall, ere he come in heaven, full surely pay therefor.
He shall peradventure, Uncle, work it out in the fruitful
works of penance, prayer, and almsdeeds done in true faith, and due
charity, and attain in such wise forgiveness well enough.
All his forgiveness goeth, Cousin, you see well, but by perhaps. But
as it may be, perhaps yea: so may it be, perhaps nay. And where
is he then? And yet you wot well, by no manner hap he shall never
hap finally to scape from death, for fear of which he forsook his faith.
No, but he may die his natural death, and escape that violent death,

and then he saveth himself from much pain, and so winneth therewith
much ease. For evermore a violent death is painful.
Peradventure he shall not avoid a violent death thereby. For God is
without doubt displeased, and can bring him shortly to a death as
violent by some other way.
Howbeit, I see well that you reckon that whoso dieth a natural
death, dieth like a wanton even at his ease. You make me remember
a man that was once in a galley subtle with us on the sea,
which while the sea was sore wrought, and the waves rose very high, and
he came never on the sea before, and lay tossed hither and thither, the
poor soul groaned sore, and for pain he thought he would very fain
be dead, and ever he wished, "Would God I were on land, that I might
die in rest!" The waves so troubled him there, with tossing him up and
down, to and fro, that he thought that trouble letted him to die,
because the waves would not let him rest: but if he might get once
to land, he thought he should then die there even at his ease.
Nay, Uncle, this is no doubt, but that death is to every man painful.
But yet is not the natural death so painful, as the violent.
By my troth, Cousin, methinketh that the death which men call
commonly natural is a violent death to every man whom it fetcheth
hence by force against his will, and that is every man which, when
he dieth, is loath to die, and fain would yet live longer if he might.
Howbeit, how small the pain is in the natural death, Cousin, fain
would I wit who hath told you. As far as I can perceive, those folk
that commonly depart of their natural death, have ever one disease and
sickness or other, whereof if the pain of that whole week or twain,
in which they lie pining in their bed, were gathered together into so

short a time as a man hath his pain that dieth a violent death; it
would, I ween, make double the pain that that is. So that he that
naturally dieth, oftener suffereth more pain than less, though he
suffer it in a longer time. And then would many a man be more
loath to suffer so long lingering in pain, than with a sharper to be
sooner rid.
And yet lieth many a man more days than one in well near
as great pain continually, as is the pain that with the violent death
riddeth the man in less than half an hour; except a man would
ween that whereas the pain is great, to have a knife cut his
flesh in the outside from the skin inward, the pain would be much
less, if the knife might begin on the inside, and cut from the midst
Some we hear in their deathbeds complain, that they think they
feel sharp knives cut a-two their heartstrings. Some cry out and
think they feel within the brainpan, their head pricked even
full of pins. And they that lie in a pleurisy think that every
time they cough, they feel a sharp sword swap them to the heart.
The consideration of the pains of hell, in which we
fall, if we forsake our Savior, may make us set all the
painful death of this world at right naught.
The Twenty-fifth Chapter
Howbeit, what should we need to make any such comparison
between the natural death and the violent? For the matter that we be
in hand with here may put it out of doubt, that he which for the
fear of the violent death forsaketh the faith of Christ, putteth himself

in the peril to find his natural death more painful a thousand
times. For his natural death hath his everlasting pain so suddenly
knit unto it, that there is not one moment of an hour between but
the end of the one is the beginning of the other that after never shall
have end. And therefore was it not without great cause, that Christ
gave us so good warning before, when he said as St. Luke in the twelfth
chapter rehearseth: "Dico autem vobis amicis meis, ne terreamini ab hiis qui
occidunt corpus, et post hac non habent amplius quid faciant. Ostendam autem
vobis quem timeatis. Timete eum, qui postquam occiderit, habet potestatem
mittere in gehennam: Ita dico vobis, hunc timete." (I say to you that
are my friends, be not afeard of them that kill the body, and which
when that is done, are able to do no more. But I shall show you,
whom you should fear: Fear him, which when he hath killed, hath
in his power further to cast him, whom he killeth, into everlasting
fire: So I say to you, be afeard of him.)
God meaneth not here, that we should nothing dread at all any
man that can but kill the body, but he meaneth that we should not
in such wise dread any such, that we should for dread of them, displease
him that can everlastingly kill both body and soul with a
death ever dying, and that yet never die. And therefore he addeth and repeateth
in the end again, the fear that we should have of him, and saith:
"Ita dico vobis, hunc timete" (So I say to you, fear him).
Oh, good God! Cousin, if a man would well weigh those words and
let them sink, as they should do, down deep into his heart, and often
bethink himself thereon, it would, I doubt not, be able enough, to
make us set at naught all the great Turk's threats, and esteem him
not at a straw, but well content to endure all the pain that all the
world would put upon us (for so short while as all they were able to
make us dwell therein) rather than by the shrinking from those pains

(though never so sharp, yet but short) to cast ourselves into the pain
of hell an hundred thousand times more intolerable, and whereof
there shall never come an end. A woeful death is that death, in which
folk shall evermore be dying, and never can once be dead. Whereof the
scripture saith, "Vocabunt mortem, et mors fugiet ab eis" (They shall call and
cry for death, and death shall flee from them).
Oh, good Lord, if one of them were now put in the choice of the
both, they would rather suffer the whole year together the most
terrible death that all the Turks in Turkey could devise, than the
death that they lie in for the space of half an hour. In how wretched
folly fall then these faithless or feeble-faithed folk, that to avoid the
pain so far the less and so short, fall in the stead thereof into pain
a thousand thousand times more horrible, and of which terrible torment,
they be sure they shall never have end!
This matter, Cousin, lacketh, as I believe, but either full faith or sufficient
minding. For I think, on my faith, if we have the grace
verily to believe it, and often to think well thereon, the fear of all the
Turk's persecution (with all this midday devil were able to make
them do in the forcing us to forsake our faith) should never be able
to turn us.
By my troth, Uncle, I think it be as you say. For surely if we
would as often think on these pains of hell, as we be very loath to do,
and seek us peevish pastimes of purpose to put such heavy things out of
our thought: this one point alone were able enough to make, I
think, many a martyr.

The consideration of the joys of heaven should make us
for Christ's sake abide and endure any painful death.
The Twenty-sixth Chapter
Forsooth, Cousin, if we were such as we should be, I would scant for very
shame (in exhortation to the keeping of Christ's faith) speak of
the pains of hell. I would rather put us in mind of the joys of heaven,
the pleasure whereof we should be more glad to get, than we should be
to flee and escape all the pains in hell.
But surely God in that thing, wherein he may seem most rigorous,
is very merciful to us, and that is (which many men would little ween)
in that he provided hell. For I suppose very surely, Cousin, that many
a man and woman too, of whom there now sit some, and more shall
hereafter sit, full gloriously crowned in heaven, had they not first been
afraid of hell, would toward heaven never have set foot forward.
But yet undoubtedly were it so, that we could as well conceive in
our hearts the marvelous joys of heaven, as we conceive the fearful
pains of hell (howbeit sufficiently we can conceive neither),
but if we would in our imagination draw as much toward the perceiving
of the one, as we may toward the consideration of the
other, we should not fail to be far more moved and stirred to the
suffering for Christ's sake in this world, for the winning of the heavenly
joys, than for the eschewing of all those infernal pains. But forasmuch
as the fleshly pleasures be far less pleasant, than the fleshly
pains be painful; therefore we fleshly folk that are so drowned in

these fleshly pleasures, and in the desire thereof, that we can almost
have no manner savor or taste in any pleasure spiritual, have no
cause to marvel that our fleshly affections be more abated and
refrained by the dread and terror of hell, than affections spiritual
imprinted in us, and pricked forward with desire and joyful hope of
Howbeit if we would somewhat set less by the filthy voluptuous
appetites of the flesh, and would by withdrawing from them, with help
of prayer through the grace of God, draw near to the secret inward
pleasure of the spirit, we should by the little sipping that our hearts
should have here now, and that sudden taste thereof, have such an estimation
of the incomparable and uncogitable joy, that we shall have
(if we will) in heaven by the very full draught thereof, whereof it is
written, "Satiabor cum apparuerit gloria tua" (I shall be satiate, satisfied and
fulfilled, when thy glory, good Lord, shall appear), that is to wit, with the
fruition of the sight of God's glorious majesty face to face: that
the desire, expectation, and heavenly hope thereof, shall more encourage
us, and make us strong to suffer and sustain for the love of God and salvation
of our soul, than ever we could be moved to suffer here worldly
pain by the terrible dread of all the horrible pains that damned
wretches have in hell.
Wherefore in the meantime for lack of such experimental taste,
as God giveth here sometimes to some of his special servants, to
the intent we may draw toward spiritual exercise too, for which
spiritual exercise God with that gift, as with an earnest penny of their
whole reward after in heaven, comforteth them here in earth: let us not
so much with looking to have described what manner of joys they
shall be, as with hearing what our Lord telleth us in holy scripture, how
marvelous great they shall be, labor by prayer to conceive in our

hearts such a fervent longing for them, that we may for attaining to
them, utterly set at naught all fleshly delight, all worldly pleasures, all
earthly losses, all bodily torments and pain.
Howbeit some things are there in scripture, expressed of the
manner of the pleasures and joys that we shall have in heaven, as where,
"Fulgebunt iusti sicut sol, et qui erudiunt ad iustitiam, tanquam scintille
in harundineto discurrent" (Righteous men shall shine as the sun, and
shall run about like sparks of fire among reeds).
Now tell some carnal minded man of this manner pleasure, and he
shall take little pleasure therein, and say he careth not to have his flesh
shine, he, nor like a spark of fire to skip about in the sky.
Tell him, that his body shall be impassible, and never feel harm:
yet if he think then therewith, that he shall never be an hungered, nor
athirst, and shall thereby forbear all his pleasure of eating and drinking,
and that he shall never have lust to sleep, and thereby lose the pleasure
that he was wont to take in slugging, and that men and women shall
there live together as angels, without any manner mind or motion
unto the carnal act of generation, and that he shall thereby not use there
his old filthy voluptuous fashion, he will say, he is better at ease already,
and would not give this world for that. For as Saint Paul saith,
"Animalis homo non percipit ea quae sunt Spiritus Dei, stultitia est enim ei."
But when the time shall come, that these foul filthy pleasures shall be
so taken from him, that it shall abhor his heart once to think on
them, whereof every man hath among a certain shadow of experience
in the fervent grief of a sore painful sickness, while the stomach
can scant abide to look upon any meat, and as for the acts of the
other foul filthy lust, is ready to vomit, if it happen him to think
thereon. When men shall, I say, after this life, feel that horrible abomination
in their heart at the remembrance of these voluptuous

pleasures (of which abomination sickness hath here a shadow) for
which voluptuous pleasures he would here be loath to change with the
joys of heaven. When he shall, I say, after this life have his
fleshly pleasures in abomination, and shall of those heavenly joys,
which he set here so little by, have there a glimmering, though far
from a perfect sight: oh, good God! how fain will he then be, with
how good will and how glad will he then give this whole world, if it
were his, to have the feeling of some little part of these joys! And
therefore let us all that cannot now conceive such delight in the consideration
of them as we should have often in our eyes by reading,
often in our ears by hearing, often in our mouths by rehearsing,
often in our hearts by meditation and thinking, those joyful words
of holy scripture, by which we learn, how wonderful huge and great
those spiritual heavenly joys are, of which our carnal hearts hath so
feeble and so faint a feeling, and our dull worldly wits so little able to
conceive so much as a shadow of the right imagination. A shadow
I say: for as for the thing as it is, that cannot only no fleshly
carnal fantasy conceive, but over that, no spiritual ghostly person
(peradventure) neither, that here is here living still in this world.
For since the very substance essential of all the celestial joy standeth
in blessed beholding of the glorious Godhead face to face, there
may no man presume or look to attain it in this life. For God hath
so said himself, "Non videbit me homo, et vivet" (There shall no man
here living, behold me). And therefore we may well know, that for
the state of this life, we be not only shut from the fruition of the
bliss of heaven, but also that the very best man living here upon
earth (the best man, I mean, being no more but a man) cannot, I
ween, attain the right imagination thereof, but those that are
very virtuous, are yet in a manner as far therefrom, as the born blind
man from the right imagination of colors.

The words that St. Paul rehearseth of the prophet Isaiah prophesying
of Christ's incarnation, may properly be verified of the joys of
heaven: "Nec oculus non vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis ascendit, que
preparavit Deus diligentibus se." For surely for this state of this world,
the joys of heaven are by man's mouth unspeakable, to man's ears
not audible, to men's hearts uncogitable, so far forth excel they all
that ever men have heard of, all that ever men can speak of, and all
that ever any man can by natural possibility think on. And yet
where the joys of heaven be such, prepared for every saved soul,
our Lord saith yet by the mouth of St. John, that he will give his holy
martyrs, that suffer for his sake, many a special kind of joy. For
he saith, "Vincenti dabo edere de ligno vite" (To him that overcometh
I shall give him to eat of the tree of life). And also he that overcometh
shall be clothed in white clothes, and I shall confess his name before
my Father, and before his angels. And also he saith, Fear none
of those things that thou shalt suffer, etc.; but be faithful unto the
death, and I shall give thee the crown of life. He that overcometh,
shall not be hurt of the second death. He saith also, "Vincenti dabo manna
absconditum,et dabo illi calculum candidum. Et in calculo nomen novum
scriptum, quod nemo scit nisi qui accipit" (To him that overcometh, will I
give manna secret and hid. And I will give him a white suffrage, and in his
suffrage a new name written, which no man knoweth but he that
receiveth it).
They used of old in Greece (where Saint John did write) to elect and
choose men unto honorable rooms, and every man's assent was called
his suffrages, which in some place was by the voices, in
some place by hands, and one kind of those suffrages was by certain
things that are in Latin called calculi, because that in some
places they used thereto round stones. Now saith our Lord that unto

him which overcometh he will give a white suffrage. For those that
wore white signified approving, as the black signified reproving.
And in those suffrages did they use to write the name of him to whom
they gave their voice. And now saith our Lord, that unto him that
overcometh he will in the suffrage give him a new name, which no
man knoweth but he that receiveth it.
He saith also: He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the
temple of my God, and he shall go no more out thereof. And I shall write
upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,
the new Jerusalem which descendeth from heaven from my God, and I
shall write on him also my new name.
If we should dilate and were able to declare these special gifts,
with yet other more specified in the second and the third chapter of
the Apocalypse; there would it appear how far these heavenly joys shall
surmount above all the comfort that ever came in the mind of any
man living here upon earth.
The blessed apostle St. Paul, that suffered so many perils, and so
many passions, he that saith of himself that he hath been, "In
laboribus pluribus, in carceribus abundantius, in plagis supra modum etc." (In
many labors, in prison oftener than other, in stripes above measure,
at point of death oftentimes. Of the Jews had I five times forty
stripes save one: thrice have I been beaten with rods, once was I
stoned: thrice have I been in shipwreck: a day and a night
was I in the depth of the sea: in my journeys often have I been in
peril of floods, in peril of thieves, in perils by the Jews, in perils
by the paynims, in perils in the city, in perils in
desert, in perils in the sea, in perils by false brethren, in labor and
misery, in many nights' watch, in hunger and thirst, in many
fastings, in cold and nakedness, besides those things that are outward,
my daily instant labor, I mean my care and solicitude about all the

churches.) And yet saith he more of his tribulations, which for the
length I let pass. This blessed apostle, I say, for all the tribulations
that himself suffered in the continuance of so many years, and
calleth yet all the tribulations of this world but light and as short
as a moment in respect of the weighty glory that it after this world
winneth us. "Id enim quod in presenti est momentaneum, et leve tribulacionis
nostre, supra modum in sublimitate eternum glorie pondus operatur in nobis,
non contemplantibus nobis quae videntur, sed quae non videntur. Que enim
videntur, temporalia sunt, quae autem non videntur, aeterna sunt" (This same
short and momentary tribulation of ours that is in this present time,
worketh within us the weight of glory above measure in sublimitate on
high, we beholding not those things that we see, but those things
that we see not. For these things that we see, be but temporal
things: but those things that are not seen are eternal.)
Now to this great glory can there no man come headless. Our
head is Christ, and therefore to him must we be joined, and as
members of his must we follow him, if we will come thither. He is
our guide to guide us thither, and is entered in before us. And he therefore
that will enter in after, "Debet sicut ille ambulavit, et ipse ambulare" (The
same way that Christ walked, the same way must he walk). And
what was the way by which he walked into heaven, himself showeth
what way it was that his Father had provided for him, where he said
unto the two disciples, going toward the castle of Emmaus, "Nesciebatis
quia oportebat Christum pati, et sic introire in regnum suam?" (Knew you not
that, Christ must suffer passion, and by that way enter into his kingdom?)
Who can for very shame desire to enter into the kingdom
of Christ with ease, when himself entered not into his own without

The consideration of the painful death of Christ is
sufficient to make us content to suffer painful death
for his sake.
The Twenty-seventh Chapter
Surely, Cousin, as I said before, in bearing the loss of worldly goods,
in suffering of captivity, thralldom, and imprisonment, and in the glad
sustaining of worldly shame, that if we would in all these points
deeply ponder the example of our Savior himself, it were of itself
alone sufficient to encourage every kind Christian man and
woman, to refuse none of all those calamities for his sake. So say I
now for painful death also, that if we could and would with due compassion
conceive in our minds a right imagination and remembrance
of Christ's bitter painful Passion, of the many sore bloody
strokes that the cruel tormentors with rods and whips gave
him upon every part of his holy tender body, the scornful crown
of sharp thorns beaten down upon his holy head, so strait
and so deep, that on every part his blessed blood issued out and streamed
down his lovely limbs drawn and stretched out upon the cross, to
the intolerable pain of his forbeaten and sore beaten veins and sinews,
new feeling with the cruel stretching and straining pain, far
passing any cramp in every part of his blessed body at once: then
the great long nails cruelly driven with hammers through his holy
hands and feet, and in this horrible pain lift up and let hang with
the peise of all his body, bearing down upon the painful wounded
places, so grievously pierced with nails, and in such torment
(without pity, but not without many despites) suffered to be pined
and pained the space of more than three long hours, till himself
willingly gave up unto his Father his holy soul: after which yet
to show the mightiness of their malice, after his holy soul departed,
pierced his holy heart with a sharp spear, at which issued out the holy
blood and water whereof his holy sacraments have inestimable secret

strength: if we would, I say, remember these things in such wise, as
would God we would, I verily suppose that the consideration of his
incomparable kindness could not fail in such wise to inflame our
key-cold hearts, and set them on fire in his love, that we should find
ourselves not only content, but also glad and desirous, to suffer death
for his sake, that so marvelously lovingly letted not to sustain so
far passing painful death for ours.
Would God we would here to the shame of our cold affection again
toward God, for such fervent love, and inestimable kindness of God toward
us: would God we would, I say, but consider what hot affection
many of these fleshly lovers have borne, and daily do to those
upon whom they dote! How many of them have not letted to jeopard
their lives, and how many have willingly lost their lives indeed
without either great kindness showed them before (and afterward,
you wot well, they could nothing win), but even that yet contented
and satisfied their mind, that by their death their lover should clearly
see how faithfully they loved? The delight whereof, imprinted in their
fantasy, not assuaged only, but counterpoised also (they thought) all
their pain. Of these affections with the wonderful dolorous effects
following thereon, not only old written stories, but over that I
think in every country Christian and heathen both, experience giveth
us proof enough. And is it not then a wonderful shame for us for the
dread of temporal death, to forsake our Savior that willingly suffered
so painful death, rather than he would forsake us, considering that
besides that he shall for our suffering so highly reward us with everlasting
Oh! if he that is content to die for his love, of whom he looketh after
for no reward, and yet by his death goeth from her, might by his death be
sure to come to her, and ever after in delight and pleasure to dwell with
her: such a lover would not let here to die for her twice. And how

cold lovers be we then unto God, if rather than die for him once
we will refuse him and forsake him forever that both died for us
before, and hath also provided that if we die here for him, we shall
in heaven everlastingly both live and also reign with him. For, as
Saint Peter saith, "Si compatimur et conregnabimus" (If we suffer with
him, we shall reign with him).
How many Romans, how many noble courages of other sundry
countries have willingly given their own lives, and suffered great deadly
pains, and very painful deaths for their countries, and the respect of
winning by their deaths the only reward of worldly renown and
fame? And should we then shrink to suffer as much for eternal
honor in heaven and everlasting glory? The devil hath also some so
obstinate heretics that endure wittingly painful death for vain
glory: and is it not then more than shame, that Christ shall see
his Catholics forsake his faith, rather than suffer the same for
heaven and very glory?
Would God, as I many times have said, that the remembrance of
Christ's kindness in suffering his Passion for us, the consideration of
hell that we should fall in by forsaking of him, the joyful meditation
of eternal life in heaven, that we shall win with this short temporal
death patiently taken for him, had so deep a place in our breast, as
reason would they should, and as (if we would do our devoir toward it, and
labor for it, and pray therefor) I verily think they should. For then
should they so take up our mind, and ravish it all another way, that as
a man hurt in a fray feeleth not sometimes his wound nor yet is not
aware thereof, till his mind fall more thereon, so far forth, that sometimes
another man showeth him that he hath lost an hand, before
that he perceive it himself: so the mind ravished in the thinking
deeply of those other things, Christ's death, hell and heaven,
were likely to diminish and put away of our painful death four parts
of the feeling either of the fear or the pain. For of this am I very

sure, if we had the fifteenth part of the love to Christ, that he both
had, and hath unto us, all the pain of this Turk's persecution could
not keep us from him, but that there would be at this day as many
martyrs here in Hungary, as have been before in other countries of
And of this point put I nothing doubt, but that if the Turk stood
even here, with all his whole army about him, and everyone of them
all were ready at hand with all the terrible torments that they
could imagine, and (but if we would forsake the faith) were setting their
torments to us, and to the increase of our terror, fell all at once in a
shout, with trumpets, tabrets, and timbrels all blown up at
once, and all their guns let go therewith, to make us a fearful noise,
if yon should suddenly then on the other side the ground quake and
rive atwain, and the devils rise out of hell and show themselves in such
ugly shape as damned wretches shall see them, and with that hideous
howling that those hellhounds should screech, lay hell open on
every side round about our feet, that as we stood we should look
down into that pestilent pit, and see the swarm of silly souls in the
terrible torments there, we would wax so feared of that sight, that as
for the Turk's host, we should scantly remember we saw them.
And in good faith for all that, yet think I farther this, that if there
might then appear the glory of God, the Trinity in his high marvelous
majesty, our Savior in his glorious manhood, sitting on his throne
with his immaculate mother, and all that glorious company
calling us there unto them, and that yet our way should lie through marvelous
painful death, before we could come at them, upon the
sight, I say of that glory there would I ween be no man that once would
shrink thereat, but every man would run on toward them, in all that
ever he might, though there lay for malice to kill us by the way, both
all the Turk's tormentors, and all the devils too. And therefore, Cousin,

let us well consider these things, and let us have sure hope in the help
of God, and I then doubt not but that we shall be sure, that as the Prophet
saith, the truth of his promise shall so compass us with a
pavise, that of this incursion of this midday devil, this Turk's persecution,
we shall never need to fear. For either if we trust in God well,
and prepare us therefor, the Turk shall never meddle with us, or else
if he do, harm shall he none do us, but instead of harm, inestimable
good. Of whose gracious help wherefore should we so sore now
despair, except we were so mad men as to ween, that either his
power or his mercy were worn out already, when we see so many a
thousand holy martyrs by his holy help suffered as much before, as
any man shall be put to now? Or what excuse can we have by the
tenderness of our flesh, when we can be no more tender than were
many of them, among whom were not only men of strength, but
also weak women and children.
And since the strength of them all stood in the help of God, and that
the very strongest of them all was never able of themselves, and
with God's help the feeblest of them all was strong enough to stand
against all the world, let us prepare ourselves with prayer, with our
whole trust in his help, without any trust in our own strength; let
us think thereon and prepare us in our mind thereto long before; let us
therein conform our will unto his, not desiring to be brought unto the
peril of persecution (for it seemeth a proud high mind to desire
martyrdom) but desiring help and strength of God, if he suffer us to
come to the stress, either being sought, found, and brought out
against our wills, or else being by his commandment
(for the comfort of our cure) bound to abide.
Let us fall to fasting, to prayer, to almsdeed in time, and give
that unto God that may be taken from us. If the devil put in our

mind the saving of our land and our goods, let us remember that
we cannot save them long. If he fear us with exile and fleeing from
our country, let us remember that we be born in the broad world
(and not like a tree to stick still in one place), and that whithersoever we go
God shall go with us.
If he threaten us with captivity, let us tell him again, better is
to be thrall unto man a while for the pleasure of God, than by displeasing
God, be perpetual thrall unto the devil. If he threat us with
imprisonment, let us tell him, we will rather be man's prisoners a
while here on earth, than by forsaking the faith be his prisoners
ever in hell.
If he put in our minds the terror of the Turks, let us consider
his false sleight therein; for this tale he telleth us, to make us forget
him. But let us remember well, that in respect of himself the Turk
is but a shadow, nor all that they can all do, can be but a fleabiting
in comparison of the mischief that he goeth about. The Turks
are but his tormentors, for himself doth the deed. Our Lord saith
in the Apocalypse, "Diabolus mittet aliquos vestrum in carcerem, ut tentemini"
(The devil shall send some of you to prison, to tempt you). He saith
not that man shall, but that the devil shall himself. For without
question, the devil's own deed it is, to bring us by his temptation with
fear and force thereof into eternal damnation. And therefore saith
St. Paul, "Non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem, sed, etc."
(Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, etc.). Thus may we see, that
in such persecutions, it is the midday devil himself that maketh
such incursion upon us, by the men that are his ministers, to make
us fall for fear. For till we fall, he can never hurt us. And therefore
saith St. Peter, "Resistite diabolo, et fugiet a vobis" (Stand against the
devil, and he shall fly from you). For he never runneth upon a man to
seize on him with his claws, till he see him down on the

ground willingly fallen himself. For his fashion is to set his servants
against us, and by them to make us for fear, or for impatience
to fall, and himself in the meanwhile compasseth us, running and
roaring like a ramping lion about us, looking who will fall, that he
then may devour him. "Adversarius vester diabolus" (saith St. Peter)
"sicut leo rugiens circuit querens quem devoret" (Your adversary the devil
like a roaring lion, runneth about in circuit, seeking whom he
may devour). The devil it is therefore, that (if we for fear of men will
fall) is ready to run upon us, and devour us. And is it wisdom then,
so much to think upon the Turks that we forget the devil? What
madman is he, that when a lion were about to devour him, would
vouchsafe to regard the biting of a little foisting cur? Therefore when
he roareth out upon us by the threats of mortal men, let us tell him,
that with our inward eye we see him well enough, and intend to stand
and fight with him, even hand to hand. If he threaten us, that we be too
weak, let us tell him that our captain Christ is with us, and that we
shall fight with his strength that hath vanquished him already,
and let us fence us with faith, and comfort us with hope, and smite
the devil in the face with a firebrand of charity. For surely if we
be of that tender loving mind that our master was, and not hate them
that kill us, but pity them and pray for them, with sorrow for the peril
that they work unto themselves; that fire of charity thrown in his
face, striketh the devil suddenly so blind, that he cannot see where
to fasten a stroke on us.
When we feel us too bold, remember our own feebleness. When we
feel us too faint, remember Christ's strength. In our fear, let us remember
Christ's painful agony, that himself would (for our comfort)
suffer before his Passion, to the intent that no fear should make us despair.
And ever call for his help, such as himself list to send us, and
then need we never to doubt but that either he shall keep
us from the painful death, or shall not fail so to strengthen us in it,
that he shall joyously bring us to heaven by it. And then doth he much

more for us, than if he kept us from it. For as God did more for poor
Lazarus, in helping him patiently to die for hunger at the rich man's
door, than if he had brought him to the door all the rich glutton's
dinner: so though he be gracious to a man, whom he delivereth out of
painful trouble, yet doth he much more for a man, if through right
painful death he deliver him from this wretched world into eternal
bliss. From which whosoever shrink away with forsaking his
faith, and falleth in the peril of everlasting fire, he shall be very sure to
repent it ere it be long after. For I ween that whensoever he falleth
sick next, he will wish that he had been killed for Christ's sake before.
What folly is it then for fear to flee from that death, which thou seest
thou shalt shortly after wish thou hadst died? Yea, I ween, almost
every good Christian man would very fain this day, that he had
been for Christ's faith cruelly killed yesterday, even for the desire
of heaven, though there were no hell. But to fear, while the pain
is coming, there is all our let. But then if we would remember hell
pain on the other side, into which we fall while we fly from this,
then should this short pain be no let at all. And yet should we be more
pricked forward, if we were faithful, by deep considering of the
joys of heaven, of which the Apostle saith, "Non sunt condigne passiones
huius temporis ad futuram gloriam, que revelabitur in nobis" (The passions
of this time be not worthy to the glory that is to come, which shall be
showed in us). We should not, I ween, Cousin, need much more in all this
whole matter, than that one text of Saint Paul, if we would consider
it well. For surely, mine own good Cousin, remember that if it were
possible for me and you alone, to suffer as much trouble, as the whole
world doth together, all that were not worthy of itself to
bring us to the joy which we hope to have everlastingly. And therefore
I pray you let the consideration of that joy put out all worldly

trouble out of your heart, and also pray that it may do the same in
me. And even thus will I, good Cousin, with these words make a sudden
end of mine whole tale, and bid you farewell. For now begin
I to feel myself somewhat weary.
Forsooth, good Uncle, this is a good end; and it is no marvel though
you be waxen weary. For I have this day put you to so much labor,
that saving for the comfort that yourself may take of your time so
well bestowed, and for the comfort that I have myself taken, and more
shall, I trust, for your good counsel given; or else would I be very sorry
to have put you to so much pain. But now shall our Lord reward and
recompense you therefor, and many shall, I trust, pray for you. For
to the intent that the more may take profit by you, I purpose, Uncle, as my
poor wit and learning will serve me, to put your good counsel in
remembrance, not in our language only, but in the Almain
tongue too. And thus praying God to give me and all other that shall read
it, the grace to follow your good counsel therein, I shall commit you
to God.
Since you be minded, Cousin, to bestow so much labor thereon, I would
it had happed you to fetch the counsel at some wiser man that
could have given you better. But better men may set more things,
and better also, thereto. And in the meantime, I beseech our Lord to
breathe of his Holy Spirit into the reader's breast, which inwardly may
teach him in heart, without whom, little availeth all that all the
mouths of the world were able to teach in men's ears. And thus, good
Cousin, farewell, till God bring us together again, either here, or in
heaven! Amen!

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