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Summary of A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation

Note: While the summary below can be used alone, it was originally meant to serve as an Appendix to my chapter on A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation in my Ph.D. dissertation:

I have also appended a figure (combining two figures from the same chapter) dealing with the structure of A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation to the end of the summaries below.

Any comments or queries can be sent to the author at

Romuald (Ronnie) Ian Lakowski

Table of Contents

6. A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation

Chapter on A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation

Return to Thesis Table of Contents

A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation

Book I (CW 12, pp. 3--77)

Introduction to Book I (I:Preface)

1. Preface (3/1--9/16)
1. Introduction: [The scene is Hungary in 1527--1528, just prior to the final invasion of Hungary by the Turks in 1529. The two protagonists are an old man Anthony, and his nephew Vincent. The dialogue begins with Vincent paying a visit to Anthony.] Vincent asks his uncle Anthony to give him comfort in the face of the impending Turkish invasion. Anthony urges Vincent to take comfort from God not from him. Vincent expresses his great fears about the terrible atrocities the Turks will commit once they come, and how he is afraid they will force everyone to give up their Christian faith. Anthony responds by recounting some of the past victories of the Turks. He reminds Vincent that there is greater evil even than the Turks, namely the pains of Hell, but agrees to Vincent's request for some words of comfort.


Comfort in Tribulation (I:1--I:12) (Comfort A)

2. Chaps. 1--2 (9/17--14/4)
2. Faith and Reason: Anthony begins (ch.1) by pointing to the tradition of consolation derived from ancient moral philosophy, and defines tribulation as a kind of grief consisting either of bodily pain or heaviness of the mind. The ancient philosophers provided some remedies against tribulation, but they lacked the most important source of comfort, namely faith. Though their medicine is insufficient by itself, they still have some good drugs in their apothecaries. Christ, however, is the best physician who provides the most effective medicines against tribulation. Faith (ch.2) is the necessary foundation without which spiritual comfort is impossible. Faith is the gracious gift of God himself. We should pray for an increase in faith. Vincent responds by agreeing with Anthony and praying for a strong faith.

3. Chaps. 3--5 (14/5--19/7)
3. Anthony begins (ch.3) by assigning as the first source of comfort the desire to be comforted by God. There are two kinds of people who suffer tribulation---those who desire comfort, and those who do not. Of those who do not desire comfort there are two kinds---those who suffer from sloth or depression, and those who are impatient and irascible. Of those who desire comfort there are two kinds---those who seek comfort in worldly things, and those who desire to be comforted by God. Those who seek comfort from God have two strong considerations in their favour---firstly, that the desire is good and lawful in itself, and, secondly, the very desire itself is a sign of the working of God's grace. Vincent responds (ch.4) by agreeing with Anthony, and prays that God send us the desire to be comforted by Him in tribulation. Anthony, however, goes on to argue that tribulation is often sent as a punishment for sin, and as a means for man's amendment. The very tribulation itself is often a means to drive men to seek God's comfort. If a man does not desire comfort (ch.5), then his friends should persuade him to pray to God for this desire, and they should also pray for him themselves.

4. Chap. 6 (19/8--23/8)
4. Vincent responds (ch.6) that Anthony's advice (in ch.5) is good, but suggests that the desire to have the tribulation taken away may also be a way of seeking God's comfort. Anthony agrees that we can often ask for the tribulation to be taken away (the Church even prays for this in the liturgy), but not in every case. For when it comes time for a man to die, he should show himself content to do so and depart to God. Good men feel the conflict between the flesh and the spirit, that St. Paul describes in Romans---but God allows this for our merit. We cannot always pray for God to take our tribulations away. We must pray, that if it is God's will for us to suffer tribulation, that God will send us the spiritual comfort to accept it gladly, or the strength to bear it patiently.

5. Chaps. 7--10 (23/10--35/6)
5. Vincent expresses satisfaction with what has been said, and invites Anthony to go on further (ch.7). Anthony then claims that every tribulation is either medicinable if men will so take it, or can become medicinable if men will so make it, or is even better than medicinable unless men reject it. Vincent expresses puzzlement. Anthony explains that tribulation either comes to us through our own fault, or is sent by God as punishment for past sins, or else is sent for the profit of our patience and increase of our merit. Vincent complains that Anthony's explanation is rather dark and obscure (ch.8). Anthony goes into more detail. In the first situation, the tribulation suffered here can take the place of suffering in the hereafter (Purgatory), and so can be medicinable. Many turn to God in their tribulations and make a virtue of necessity. The second kind of tribulation (ch.9) is somewhat like the first---we have all sinned and deserve punishment for our sins. The tribulations we suffer can be medicinable for our past sins, if we accept them in the right spirit, and can also serve as a preservative against sins to come. Vincent now asks Anthony about the third kind of tribulation (ch.10), and expresses doubt that it is better than the first two, since we can never know for sure whether the tribulation is sent as a punishment for past sins or to increase our merit. Anthony replies that there are some examples of good men, like Job, who can justly claim that they did not deserve the sufferings they endured. The tribulation was clearly meant to exercise Job's patience. Anthony goes on to give the example of those who suffer tribulations at the hands of the Turks for the cause of justice and in defence of the Christian faith. Such tribulations are better than medicinable, since they can lead to salvation.

6. Chaps. 11--12 (35/7--40/13)
6. Anthony goes on (ch.11) to argue that tribulation can lead not only to the purging of our sins, but also to the increase of our heavenly reward, that in God's goodness it can serve as a form of penance, through the merit of Christ's bitter Passion. Vincent objects (ch.12) that the doctrine of Purgatory has now been brought into question by the Lutherans, who claim that men merit nothing at all, but God gives all for faith alone. Anthony begins by commenting on the religious divisions in Germany, and expresses his hope that some kind of reconciliation can be made between the different parties, so that Christendom can present a common front against the Turks. After commenting on the central reformation conflict between faith and works, and expressing his belief in the traditional teaching of the Church on Purgatory, Anthony says he will not strive with the other (Lutheran) position. He points out that though the Lutherans say that those who suffer tribulation or martyrdom for the faith shall receive their high reward (i.e. salvation) not for their works, but for their well-working faith, nonetheless they do acknowledge the ultimate comfort (of salvation) that God gives in this third kind of tribulation.


On the Necessity of Tribulation (I:13--I:20)

7. Chaps. 13--15 (40/14--47/27)
7. Anthony goes on (ch.13) to suggest that those who never experience tribulation in this life never experience comfort either and this is a great lack. The world is a vale of tears, and those that God loves he chastises---by many tribulations must we go into the kingdom of God. Therefore, how can those who experience no tribulations enter the kingdom of God. We cannot have continual wealth in this world and the next. Those who never experience tribulation have great cause to fear. Vincent objects (ch.14) that Anthony is being very hard on those who experience continual prosperity, and claims that many preachers promise them that they can make merry here on earth all their life and still enjoy Heaven. Anthony responds that those who do this, do so either to seek a reward from their hearers, or out of fear that their hearers will become angry and turn to even worse things. Vincent further objects (ch.15), firstly, that the Church in various collects and other prayers prays especially for princes and prelates, that God will grant them perpetual health and prosperity. Secondly, if prosperity were so perilous then we should pray that our neighbours experience sorrow and sickness, and that they should not take any 'medicine' for the lessening of their tribulation. Thirdly, he goes on to cite the examples of Solomon, Job and Abraham who all were prosperous. Fourthly, he concludes that many rich men are good, and many a miserable wretch is as evil as he is wretched.

8. Chap. 16 (48/1--56/12)
8. Anthony replies (ch.16) that he did not mean to lay it down as a rule that worldly pleasure is always unpleasant to God, or tribulation always wholesome---God gives either sort of fortune to both the just and the unjust. God gives good things to those who are evil to call them to him through kindness, and when that fails he uses tribulation. God sometimes spares the righteous tribulation lest they fall into iniquity. Anthony then claims (using a metaphor from archery) that the real target (mark or prick) he and Vincent are shooting their arrows at is not that claim that prosperity is always perilous, but that continual prosperity without any tribulation is a sign of God's disfavour. Vincent admits that some of his bolts were shot wide of the mark. Anthony then briefly rehearses the four points that Vincent had made in ch.15, and immediately puts aside the fourth as having fallen wide of the mark. Before turning to the other three points, he then clarifies matters by offering a definition of tribulation. Tribulation is every such thing that troubles or grieves a man, either in body or in mind. Some tribulations that grieve the mind cause far greater suffering than bodily pains. There are more forms of tribulation than Vincent thinks. Every tribulation is an interruption of 'prosperity' or well-being. The tribulation of temptation troubles many a good man, without others being aware of it. As for Vincent's second objection, to pray for continual prosperity is a childish prayer, equivalent to praying that one never feel temptation or else be free to indulge every temptation. As for Vincent's third objection (in ch.15), the example of Solomon does not serve since Solomon fell into idolatry; and neither does Job, since Job experienced great tribulations, though God eventually repaid him double for his sufferings. Least of all does Abraham serve as an example since, although he was always prosperous, he experienced many tribulations---such as having to leave his homeland, parting company with Lot, the destruction of the five cities, the banishment of Ishmael, and the 'sacrifice' of Isaac.

9. Chaps. 17--18 (56/13--63/23)
9. Vincent now admits (ch.17) that his arrows (i.e. objections) have shot further from the mark than he thought, but insists that his second objection still stands, i.e. that if tribulation is so profitable, then we should not pray for it to be withdrawn. Anthony replies that God who teaches us that tribulation is profitable also teaches us to pray for relief. God sometimes even sends us tribulation to make us pray to him for help. Anthony then discusses (ch.18) those who in tribulation do not turn to God but rather to the world, the flesh and the devil. When these people experience tribulation they use worldly pleasures to distract themselves and only become worse. Some even turn to witchcraft like Saul, and do themselves harm in the process.

10. Chap. 19 (64/1--75/3)
10. Vincent raises one further objection (ch.19), he essentially restates the fourth objection from ch.15 as follows: if prosperity and tribulation are neither good nor bad in themselves, and both good and bad men can experience either kind of fortune, why value tribulation more than prosperity. The prosperous can pray much more easily to God, than those who are suffering tribulation. Anthony responds by arguing that the two prayers are not the same: many who are in tribulation cry out heartily to God, whereas those who are at ease let their minds wander all the time. The short prayer of one who is in tribulation is more pleasing to God than the long services of those who are in health. The martyrs in their agony made no long prayers, yet they were pleasing to God. The greatest of Christ's prayers were those he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemene and on the cross. True comfort comes from spiritual things, not from the pleasures of the body. Scripture commends tribulation as a source of far greater profit than prosperity. Even the wealthy man who gives alms experiences tribulation is so doing. It is harder to accept God's will in tribulation than in prosperity.

11. Chap. 20 (75/4--77/26)
11. Anthony concludes (ch.20) by claiming that tribulation is a gracious gift of God that he gives to his friends. It is highly commended in scriptures, and the continual absence of it is perilous. it helps to purge our past sins, and preserves us from future sins. It draws us to God, and diminishes the pains of purgatory. Without it we cannot get to Heaven. Whoever considers this will grow in goodness, aand be moved to thank God for it. God is near to those in tribulation. If we consider this, our tribulation will be lessened. We should be glad to go to God, and exchange our transitory tribulations for everlasting glory. Vincent thanks Anthony for being so patient with his importunate objections, which have caused Anthony tribulation. Vincent then expresses his desire to come back again at some other time to continue with their discussion, and prays for Anthony for comfort. Anthony in turn prays for Vincent and all their friends. Vincent promises to share Anthony's counsels with them, and then he takes his leave.


Book II (CW 12, pp. 78--187)

The Beginning of Book II (II:Preface--II:8)

1. Preface (78/1--82/4)
12. Book II begins (Preface) with Vincent having returned about a month later. Vincent jokes that in their previous meeting he had overtaxed Anthony by letting him do all the talking. Anthony replies that their conversation was little grievous to him since old men love to sit by the fire and drink and talk. The chief subject of their previous conversation was not tribulation but the comfort that grows out of it. Vincent tells Anthony that he has reported to their mutual friends the counsels that Anthony had imparted to him in their previous meeting, and tells Anthony to dismiss him when he, Anthony, has had enough of talking. Anthony replies that he now wishes he had let Vincent do more of the talking when they last met. [They then tell a couple of 'merry tales'---one about a talkative nun, and the other about a talkative wife.] Vincent, however, apologizes for having spoken so much previously, and for asking Anthony such awkward questions.

2. Chaps. 1--2 (82/5--86/14)
13. Vincent defends the desire (ch.1) to sometimes seek worldly comfort in tribulation by citing the example of telling 'merry tales' [of which there will be many in Book II], which refresh the mind again when it has become tired from too much study. Anthony is reluctant to go along with Vincent, and points out that, while honest worldly mirth has its place, most people dont need any encouragement to tell idle tales. When the preacher speaks of the pains of Hell, everyone pricks up their ears, but when he preaches of the joys of Heaven they all wander off. [A tale from Cassian.] Anthony concludes that merry tales should be used sparingly---they should serve us for sauce and not for our meat. Vincent agrees and asks Anthony to continue with the matter of their previous discussion. Anthony laments his old age (ch.2)---comparing himself to a candle that has burnt right down to the candlestick holder and flickers up a few last times before going out. He prays for God's help to sustain him in dealing with the matters they are going to talk about.

3. Chaps. 3--4 (86/15--90/26)
14. Anthony begins (ch.3) by dividing tribulations into three different kinds: the first being those which a man willingly takes upon himself, the second those he willingly suffers, and the third those he is unable to avoid, such as sickness, imprisonment, loss of goods, loss of friends or unavoidable bodily harm. The third kind has been already dealt with in Book I, and Anthony promises to deal from now on with the second kind. However, before doing so he turns briefly to the first kind (ch.4), and cites those who do acts of penance as a punishment for their own sins as an example. In this kind of tribulation a man needs no comfort since he has freely taken it upon himself, and will experience comfort in the very act of tribulation. [An anecdote about Anthony's tertian fever, and about a young female relative who was knowledgeable about medicine and diagnosed the fever correctly.] In the first kind of tribulation one experiences both the sorrow (of the tribulation), and the joy that comes from doing the penance. He finishes with the first kind of tribulation. [The second kind will take up the rest of Books II and III.]

4. Chaps. 5--8 (91/1--100/22)
15. Vincent now objects (ch.5) that many a man is bold in his sins even to the end of his life, trusting to be saved by deathbed repentance. Anthony replies that those who repent at the last minute do not enjoy as high a place in Heaven as those who have always lived good lives. Those who leave repentance to the last moment risk being rejected at the end by God. [Anecdote of the man who fell off a horse to his death over a broken bridge while cursing God.] Vincent brings forward another objection (ch.6) that there are those (the Lutherans) who say that fasting and penance are superstitious follies. The Lutherans claim fasting should be only done for reasons of temperance. [Vincent's anecdote of the German Lutheran preacher.] Anthony replies that the Church has always taught that apart from Christ's Passion, penance counts for nothing. However, it is God's will that we do penance. Moses and Elijah, the Ninivites and Christ himself fasted---but not for reasons of temperance! Scripture is full of places that show that fasting was instituted by God and not by men. Vincent objects (ch.7) that some men cannot feel sorry for their past sins, but rather remember them with pleasure. Anthony replies that God is merciful and has pity on our infirmities, and counsels that one in this situation should at least feel sorry that he cannot feel sorry, and that he should redouble his bodily penances. Anthony dismisses the opinions of the Lutherans as being against scripture and the tradition of the Church. Vincent now asks Anthony (ch.8) to deal with the second kind of tribulation (cf. ch.3). Anthony subdivides the second kind into two: the first being temptation and the second persecution---the kind of persecution that a man is reluctant to endure, but does so to avoid giving displeasure to God. The two kinds of tribulation are interrelated. In temptation the devil persecutes us indirectly, but in persecution the devil tempts us openly.


Psalm 90:5--6 and the First Temptation (II:9--II:16c) (Comfort B)

5. Chaps. 9--12 (100/23--111/9)
16. On temptation. It is a great comfort (ch.9) to every man to be challenged by temptation, which, if he wrestles with it, will be the matter of his eternal reward. A source of greater comfort in temptation (ch.10) is that God has promised in many places in scriptures to strengthen and sustain those who endure temptation. Anthony then goes on to quote from Psalm 90 (91), verses 1 and 4, as an example of these scriptural promises. [God as mother hen, and the Devil as a kite.] On the four kinds of temptation as illustrated by Psalm 90 (91), verse 5--6 (ch.11): "You shall not be afraid of the night's fear, the arrow flying in the day, the business walking around in the darkness, and the incursion of the noonday devil." [This will become a framework for much of the remainder of Books II and III.] Anthony then deals (ch.12) with the first kind of temptation of Psalm 90 (91), the night's fear. He interprets the night's fear to consist of those temptations of the Devil, such as the ones with which Job was tempted, which tempt good men to impatience. This kind of temptation can be called the night's fear for two reasons---the tribulation is often dark and unknown, and just as at night everything appears twice as dangerous, the dangers of the temptation are often greatly exaggerated. [Anecdote of the Hungarian scout who mistook a long hedge at night for the advancing Turkish army.]

6. Chaps. 13--14 (111/10--121/6)
17. Of pusillanimity and a scrupulous conscience. Anthony identifies pusillanimity (ch.13), or faintheartedness, as an example of the night's fear, which leads a man to flee often unnecessarily from danger. Those who suffer from pusillanimity need to call upon God for courage and seek good counsel. One of the daughters of pusillanimity is a scrupulous conscience (ch.14). [Anecdote of the overscrupulous maidservant and her long suffering mistress.] An overscrupulous person often sees danger when there is none. However, it is better to be overscrupulous than to have no conscience at all. [Mother Maud's Tale (114/14--120/6): of the confessions to a fox of an overscrupulous ass and of a wolf whose conscience was very accommodating.] Those with overscrupulous consciences should seek counsel of others. [Anecdote of the man learned in medicine (Wolsey?) who did harm to himself by trying to be his own physician.]

7. Chap. 15 (122/1--129/5)
18. Anthony goes on (ch.15) to describe the desire to kill oneself as another form of the night's fear or pusillanimity. Vincent objects that far from being an expression of pusillanimity, the desire to kill oneself is an expression of great courage and boldness. Anthony admits that the desire to kill oneself may not be an expression of pusillanimity, but in that case it is not a tribulation. Some are tempted by pride or anger to kill themselves and are happy to do so. Vincent is surprised by Anthony's claim that those who kill themselves out of pride or anger experience no tribulation. To illustrate this point Anthony replies by telling two anecdotes, full of black humour, about a couple of suicides. [One about a woman who taunted her husband to chop her head off, which he, inspired by his good angel, promptly did; and the other about a widow who tried to persuade some good man to chop off her head and leave the axe in her neighbour's house so that he would be framed for murder.] In these cases the temptation to kill oneself was no tribulation since those involved enjoyed thinking about it. They required good counsel rather than comfort.

8a. Chap. 16a (129/6--135/7)
19. [The account that follows in most of Ch.16 (129/6--157/7) consists of advice given to a hypothetical third person, a spiritual man. This account has a structure very similar to the dialogues-within-dialogues in Utopia ('The Cardinal Morton Episode') and in the Dialogue Concerning Heresies,


The Second Temptation (II:16d--e)

9a. Chap. 16d (157/6--163/2)
22. Vincent at this point suggests that they break for dinner, but Anthony replies that the matter of the second temptation will not require long to treat of. Anthony interprets "the arrow flying by day" to consist of those temptations that come in prosperity---of the pride and lust it produces. Man's course through life is compared to an arrow shot up for a short time in the air. The arrow of pride must eventually come down to earth again. The arrow that the proud man shoots has its prick or mark in the pit of Hell. Anthony suggests that the temptation of pride may seem to be no tribulation, and therfore outside of their theme. Vincent agrees but says that he thought it good matter to discuss anyway. Anthony replies that for many good men the temptation to pride in prosperity can indeed be a source of tribulation. This temptation leads to ambitious glory, arrogance, contempt for the poor, oppression and extortion. Many a good man in a position of authority feels troubled by these temptations. Some such men out of fear abandon the duties of their office and pretend to be serving God in doing nothing. If a man truly feels himself in danger from wealth and authority then he should give up his office, whether it be a bishopric, parsonage or some temporal position of authority. If, on the other hand, he can do his duty without danger to himself, then he should not be fearful, since God, who has called him to this office, will also give him the grace to fulfill it, unless he has acquired his office through simony or fraud. He should help the poor, but not hesitate to punish evil doers. He suggests that the person in authority should treat every beggar as his fellow. Vincent protests that this is hard for an honourable man to do, and points to their differences in dress.

9b. Chap. 16e (163/3--166/7)
23. Anthony uses the example of two beggars---one of whom was chosen by a rich man to live in his house for a few weeks and wear rich clothes. He asks if the condition of the beggar would be any better than the other. Vincent is forced to admit not. Anthony concludes that the difference between the rich and the poor in this world is like that between these two beggars, and that in Heaven the positions may be reversed---that the poor beggar may hold a position of great authority. Anthony advises that the man in authority should go to confession, and seek counsel from a confessor. He should also make a solitary place in his own house where he can retire and pray alone. Vincent responds that he likes Anthony's counsels well, and thinks they would be profitable to those in prosperity. Anthony then declares his intention to deal with the third temptation of Psalm 90, "the business walking in the darkness," and then have dinner after that, leaving the fourth temptation, "the noonday devil," till the afternoon. Vincent agrees but suggests that his uncle not postpone his dinner too long. Anthony promises to be short.


The Third Temptation (II:17)

10. Chap. 17 (166/8--187/29)
24. Anthony interprets the Negotium of Psalm 90:6 (Vulgate) as a devil that tempts people to much evil business or frantic activity in pursuit of worldly goods and pleasures. There are some who possess many goods, who yet resist the temptation to covetiseness, and to set their hearts wholly upon their possessions. Anthony quotes various places in Scripture where the desire to possess riches is condemned. Some doubt whether it is lawful to possess any riches. However, what is condemned is not the possession of riches, but the inordinate desire for and attachment to them. Vincent replies that the world would be in a difficult situation if every rich man was in danger of damnation. Anthony replies that many indeed are since they long so greatly to be rich. Vincent continues by raising the objection that he cannot see how any man can be rich, and keep his riches without danger of damnation, unless he gives all his riches to the poor. Anthony admits that the rich man who keeps all his riches, and gives none away to the poor as alms is indeed in danger of damnation; however, he denies that the rich man must give away all his wealth on peril of damnation. Christ call us to put him before all attachments to family or worldly possessions but he does not condemn rich men out of hand. The poor have a special place in Heaven, but sometimes a rich man, like Abraham, leads a life more virtuous than many who are poor. He cites the example of Zacheus, the publican, in the Gospels (176/7--179/10; cf. Luke 19:1--10), who promised to make restitution to anyone he had cheated, and also gave alms to the poor, but for all that still kept some of his worldly possessions, and was highly praised by Christ. Christ said that the poor would be always with us. Rich men are necessary. They give relief to beggars, and employ the poor. Anthony stresses that we are called to have a special care for our own families, including our servants. We should also take care of our parents, but we should not neglect the needs of strangers either. After Anthony has concluded dealing with the third temptation, dinner is brought in, and they say grace. Anthony apologizes to Vincent in advance for needing to take a short afternoon nap after his dinner. Vincent excuses him on account of his old age, and says that he in turn has a little errand to run after dinner, and will return afterwards so that they can continue with the matter of their discussion.


Book III (CW 12, pp. 188--320)

The Beginning of Book III (III:Preface--III:1)

1. Preface (188/1--195/31)
25. Book III begins with Vincent apologising for having taken so long to return. He tells Anthony that he has been shown a letter sent from Constantinople that says that the Great Turk is preparing a large army to go to war. Anthony replies that in all likelihood he intends to invade Hungary. Vincent expresses fear that all the tribulations that he had anticipated at the beginning of Book I will indeed come to pass. Anthony replies that this will not happen at first, since the Great Turk will pretend to be coming to the aid of one of the factions contending for the Hungarian throne. Vincent expresses the pious hope that he will not force anyone to renounce their faith. Anthony reminds him that the Great Turk takes an oath on becoming Sultan to spread the faith of Islam by conquest. Anthony then goes on to describe the various sufferings and atrocities the Great Turk inflicts on Christian populations---he takes away their lands and their children, and subjects the population to heavy taxes, and many are even carried off to be sold into slavery. Vincent expresses the fear that many Christians will renounce their faith after the Turkish invasion. Anthony agrees that this will probably happen, and points out that Hungary is especially vulnerable because of the various factions warring over the title to the Hungarian throne---that some will favour "the Turkes sect" for political reasons. [Portent of the children's games in Buda.] If Hungary falls, all Christendom will be in danger. Vincent expresses hope that God will protect Hungary from the Turks, but Anthony replies that, though God will eventually vindicate Christendom after they are dead, he is allowing the Turkish invasion as a punishment for the evils of Christian society. The Turks are his scourges. One of the worst signs is that many are ready to convert to the Turk's faith. Vincent reports he has heard many people say that if they convert to the Turk's faith, they will gain mastery over the lives and lands of true Christians. Anthony replies that with the various warring factions in Hungary, no one is likely to offer any resistance to the Turks, and that we should prepare for the worst.

2. Chap. 1 (196/1--199/24)
26. Vincent objects (ch.1) that it is dangerous to prepare ourselves, since either we will make the mistake St. Peter made, and promise more than we can perform, or else renounce our faith out of fear where no danger yet exists. Anthony replies that there is no harm in promising more than one can perform---St. Peter's offence was not in his promise, but in his later denial of Christ. Anyone who thinks beforehand that he will renounce his faith under the Turk's persecution has a weak faith to begin with. The question of what to do when the Turks invade is now unavoidable since everyone is now talking about it. Christ also makes it plain that every Christian must confess his faith openly upon pain of damnation. If anyone is afraid of falling, let him think of Christ's bitter sufferings in his Passion and pray for strength. Anthony concludes that they had all better prepare for this eventuality now. Vincent agrees and asks Anthony to continue with their previous discussion. Anthony now turns to the fourth temptation (of Psalm 90(91)), and declares it entirely applicable to their present situation.


The Fourth Temptation (III:2--III:4)

3. Chaps. 2--4 (200/1--205/26)
27. Anthony now treats (ch.2) of the "incursion of the noon-day devil," which he interprets as plain and open persecution for the faith. This is the most dangerous of temptations. In all other kinds of temptation the Devil disguises his intentions, but in this kind he comes openly in the midday, and furiously assaults the Christian out of hatred for Christ's Catholic faith, and tries to force the Christian to renounce his faith. Vincent says that those facing this temptation are in special need of good counsel and advice. Anthony admits that Vincent's situation is more perilous than his, since Anthony is already old and sick, and he asks Vincent to list all the dangers that those suffering from this temptation face. Vincent expresses concern for the fate of their relatives. Anthony shares Vincent's deep concern for the dangers facing their common relatives and friends. All the harm that a man can suffer (ch.3) affects either his body or his soul. Anthony asks Vincent to list all the kinds of harm that can come to the body, starting first with the loss of possessions. Vincent first lists loss of worldly possessions, offices, positions of authority and finally the lands that belong to the man in question and his heirs. The loss of these things leads to neediness and poverty, and the shame of begging. The harm that comes to the body consists of loss of liberty, hard labour, imprisonment, and a painful and shameful death. Anthony replies that even the loss of a part of this would cause many to lose their faith. If our faith were as strong as that of the early Christian martyrs, we would need little comfort or counsel, but would instead be eager for martyrdom. But alas today our faith is faint and lukewarm, therefore we need to think of the perils that lie ahead and prepare ourselves. Anthony concludes (ch.4) that once they have pondered the matter, the threat of the Turkish invasion will seem less terrible, and not a thing to flee from.


The Loss of Outward Things (III:5--III:16)

4. Chaps. 5--8 (206/1--211/1)
28. The benefits of worldly possessions have been greatly exaggerated (ch.5). Often the worst men, such as the Great Turk and his nobles, have the greatest possessions. Great possesions can easily be lost---witness the example of the Sultan of Syria who lost his whole empire to the Great Turk in a year. It is foolish to put one's trust in a heap of silver and gold metal. The possession of land offers no more security than money (ch.6). Even if our land is not taken away from us, we can be taken away just as easily as our land. The loss of two great empires---Greece (1453) after Anthony was born and Syria (1517) after Vincent was born---clearly proves this. [Image of world soul from Plato's Timaeus.] Lands and estates can very easily change hands---to the extent that the original possessors and their heirs are long forgotten. The descendants of a ploughman may become kings, and those of a king on the other hand ploughmen and carters. When we consider (ch.7) worldly possessions and our good name or reputation, we should take into account how they either benefit us in this life or provide matter of merit for the life to come. Our own imaginations (ch.8) make us value riches too highly. We are not dressed any more warmly in silk. Delicate and rich foods are not necessarily healthier than less sumptuous fare. We go to great trouble to acquire riches that can be so easily lost. Some get murdered for their riches. Others steal it from themselves by burying it away.

5. Chaps. 9--10 (211/2--219/8)
29. Anthony now turns to the possession of a good name (ch.9). The value of a good name is greatly exaggerated. It can even bring harm---at the hands of those who hate us and envy us. Often a man is flattered to his face, and ridiculed behind his back. Yet some foolishly go around continually seeking the praises of others. Some even hire flatterers (ch.10). Vincent interjects at this point with a merry tale about a great prelate in Germany (Wolsey?) who loved to hear himself flattered [212/30---216/2]. Vincent concludes that most men prefer to be flattered than told the truth. [Another tale about the same prelate who asked advice of an ambassador (More?) and then rebuked him for giving it.] Anthony then replies by telling a story about King Ladislas (of Hungary) who rejected praise when he thought it unmerited.

6. Chaps. 11--12 (219/9--225/17)
30. The possession of great offices and positions of authority (ch.11) likewise brings little benefit. Men chiefly desire offices so that they can rule over others. [Merry tale about a woman who liked to rule her husband.] In any kingdom only one man has complete power to command and control those under him, namely the king. A man's superiors often command more of him, than he does of those under him. Vincent interjects that there is still a certain satisfaction in ordering people around, and making them bow and do reverence. Anthony replies that the pleasure of having twenty men bowing to you cannot match the pain of having to kneel to someone else when your knee is sore. Even princes cannot always have their way. Their responsibilities are more burdensome. They have to bear the cost and charge of waging war. The servants of a prince also can experience great reverses in fortune. We cannot keep these possessions for very long---in the end we all must die. Worldly possessions also can do harm to the soul (ch.12). Anyone who desires worldly possessions for purely worldly reasons will likely use them for evil ends. He usually acquires them also by sinful means. The desire to possess these things puffs a man up with pride, and leads to the oppression of the innocent.

7. Chaps. 13--14 (225/18--237/28)
31. Vincent agrees with Anthony (ch.13) but points out that most men who desire offices or positions of authority pretend that they do so in order to do some good with them. Anthony replies that indeed everyone who desires worldly wealth says so, though many do so falsely. However, persecution by the Turks will prove whose desire to do good is genuine. Those who desire falsely will forsake their faith to keep their possessions, while those whose desire is genuine will lose their possessions rather than abandon their faith. In this persecution for the faith, those who desire possessions for worldly reasons will gain by losing their possessions, and those who desire them for spiritual reasons will be happy to give them up. Vincent admits (ch.14) that those who have already lost their possessions during the Turkish invasion will be consoled by this argument, but those who are in the situation where they can still keep their possessions, if they renounce their faith, stand in great peril. Anthony agrees that the temptation is great and asks Vincent to play-act the role of a "great lord," who fears to lose his possessions. Anthony asks his "Lordship" (i.e. Vincent) what holds him back from abandoning his possessions to keep his faith. [This is another "dialogue-within-a-dialogue" like Book II, ch.16.] Vincent agrees to play-act the role of the "great lord." Vincent replies, in the persona of the "great lord," that what prevents him is the many benefits he derives from his possessions. He also thinks that he can outwardly profess belief in the Turk's faith, and still inwardly believe in Christ. Anthony replies that God does not accept half-measures and does not need the service of the "great lord" that Vincent is play-acting. You cannot serve two masters; you cannot serve both God and Mammon. Such half-measures will not work with the Great Turk either, since he will force the Christian in the end to renounce Christ completely. Anthony asks Vincent how he knows that the Turk will keep his promise and let Vincent-the-Great-Lord keep his wealth. Vincent replies that a great prince's honour is the guarantee that he will keep his promise. Anthony replies that the Great Turk regularly breaks such promises. [The Hungarian merchant and the Sultan of Syria.] Even if the Great Turk keeps his promises, Vincent cannot be sure of being able to keep his wealth. He may lose it if Christian men win Hungary again. Finally, God himself can deprive the "great lord" of his wealth. It is God who lets him keep it in the first place. Even the Great Turk cannot deprive others of their wealth, if God did not allow it. Vincent replies that God is merciful, and lets many live in prosperity long after they renounce their faith. Anthony denies this: since life itself is short, no one can possess their wealth for long. God is patient, and will eventually punish evil doers. God will deprive the great lord of his wealth when he least expects it, and will then cast the great lord's soul into Hell for rejecting his faith. Vincent agrees with Anthony, and declares that he will stop playing the "great lord," and will pray for grace to play a contrary role in real life.

8. Chaps. 15--16 (238/1--244/21)
32. Anthony suggests (ch.15) that the threat of persecution by the Turks will force Christians to find a good place to hide their wealth where the Turkish army will not find it. Vincent replies that many have hidden their money in the ground, only to find when they returned that it has been dug up and carried away. Anthony replies that they hid it foolishly, and put it where they had been warned not to. For Christ warned them not to bury their treasure in the ground where it might be stolen by thieves but rather to hoard up their treasure in Heaven where no thieves can steal it. Those who give their money to the poor have found a safe place to bury it in. Vincent agrees but objects that men find it hard to lack a means to live on. Anthony replies that those who do so are too attached to their possessions, and that the persecutors are God's husbandmen who are sent to weed up and remove these attachments. If our hearts are truly in Heaven, God will strengthen us to suffer the loss of our worldly possessions. The Christian faith has grown very weak and lukewarm (ch.16). If Christians truly remembered the poverty of Christ, how he became poor and needy for their sakes, they would be ashamed to forsake him by keeping their wealth. If we remember this, we will not need to be afraid of this "incursion of the noonday devil," of this open persecution by the Turks.


Bodily Pain, Captivity, and Imprisonment (III:17--III:24)

9. Chaps. 17--18 (244/22--255/8)
33. Vincent then replies (ch.17) that even if the Turks were to deprive him of all of his possessions, he would not forsake his faith in Christ. However, he expresses fear at the prospect of having physical sufferings inflicted on him. Anthony reminds Vincent that Christ himself expressed fear at his own sufferings during his Passion. Anthony urges Vincent to meditate on Christ's sufferings. Christ's Passion will then inspire him with strength to face his own sufferings. We are called to suffer with Christ and submit our wills to him. When we do so, God will give us the grace to endure even martyrdom---either God will rescue us from the hands of our persecutors, or he will give us the strength to withstand the persecution of the noonday devil, of the Turkish invasion. Vincent finds himself greatly comforted by Anthony's words. Anthony replies that it is God who is doing the comforting not him. Anthony now turns (ch.18) to consider the various forms of physical sufferings the Turks will inflict, starting with captivity. Vincent replies that it is a terrible thing to be taken captive to a foreign country. Anthony responds that if our hearts are set on God, we will find him in the new country just as readily as in the old. We are called as Christians to be pilgrims and wanderers---our true home is in Heaven. Captivity is the violent restraint of a man under the power of another to the extent that he must do what the other commands, and is not at liberty to go where he wishes. Though to be taken captive by the Turk is hard, we should remember how often we misused our liberties before and were the slaves to sin. We were restrained by laws, and often suffered more as free men at the hands of those who had authority over us, than bondmen did at the hands of their lords. Since Christ himself took the form of a 'slave,' when he became man, we should not be ashamed to be slaves for his sake. Vincent thanks Anthony for his counsels and asks him now to deal with imprisonment.

10a. Chap. 19a (255/9--262/19)
34. Anthony defines imprisonment (ch.19) as a restraint of liberty that prevents a man from going where he wishes. Vincent objects that there are many other hardships involved in it as well. Anthony agrees but points out that he wants to consider imprisonment by itself without any incidental sufferings involved. Vincent replies that imprisonment by itself is quite onerous. Anthony continues by further defining imprisonment as the restraining of a man within a smaller or larger space, from which he is prevented from going into any other place. Anthony asks Vincent if two men were kept in a great castle in chambers, one in a chamber much larger that the other, whether they were both prisoners. Vincent replies that they both are even if one has the freedom of the castle, and the other is held in stocks. Anthony then asks Vincent if he knows any man this day that is out of prison. Vincent is puzzled and replies that he knows none who are not. Anthony counters by claiming that he knows no man who is out of prison. Vincent objects that every man who is free to go where he will is out of prison, and that the poorest beggar out of prison is better off than a king kept in prison. Anthony replies paradoxically that such a beggar is not free, and that even the Grand Turk, by whom we so fear to be put in prison, himself is in prison---since he cannot go where he wills, i.e. into Portugal, Italy, Spain and other European countries, nor into the lands of Prester John or the Grand Cam. Even the beggar is restrained from going into many places. Vincent objects that both the king and the beggar have enough places to walk in, and can go every place they need to go. Anthony replies that by the same line of argument that any prisoner who has reconciled himself inwardly to the point where he accepts his imprisonment, and does not desire freedom is as free as they are and 'out of prison' too. On the other hand, the king and beggar who desire to go where they cannot, lack liberty and are thus 'in prison.' Vincent objects that even if every man is in prison, those, who are imprisoned in the common meaning of the word, suffer many hardships and griefs. He says that he is not satisfied with Anthony's arguments and accuses Anthony of engaging in "sophistical fantasies."

10b. Chap. 19b (262/20--270/12)
35. Anthony welcomes Vincent's challenge and replies that he will try to prove that every man is indeed a real prisoner in a real prison---and that many are as hardly handled in this general imprisonment as in the other commonly so called imprisonment. Anthony asks Vincent whether a man atteinted to death for treason, who was given the freedom to use his lands and goods, and allowed to be with his wife and children before his execution, was indeed a prisoner or not. Vincent agrees that he is. Anthony replies that every man coming into this world is condemned to death by God's own judgement for man's original sin. God has put mankind upon the earth in such a way that no man, woman or child can escape from death. Every man (even the greatest king) is here, by the ordinance of God, a prisoner kept sure and safe by God himself, in a place out of which he cannot escape. No one, not even the greatest king, can escape the grisly cruel hangman Death.

11. Chap. 20 (270/13--280/14)
36. Vincent accepts Anthony's arguments (ch.20) but expresses once again concern at the harsh sufferings of those who are kept in commonly-so-called prisons, and suggests that their sufferings are worse than those who are 'prisoners' in the prison of the world. Anthony replies that many who are 'prisoners' in the large prison of this whole earth suffer as harshly. God is the chief jailor of this prison of the whole earth. God does not put us in stocks or collars because, though our prison is invisible and has no walls, there is no way we can escape from it. We forget that we are prisoners, and gaily decorate our prisons. This displeases God, who sends the hangman death often to kill many thousands at once. Those he spares are often handled as harshly as those who are kept in regular prisons. Vincent accepts part of Anthony's argument, but objects that he does not see God putting any man in stocks or fetters, or locking him in a chamber. Anthony replies that as God himself is invisible, he also uses invisible instruments to inflict his punishments. Though the means are different, the effect is the same as the punishments inflicted in ordinary prisons---God strikes one person with a hot fever, another with a migraine, a third with an inflammation, another with a palsey, and another with the gout. Vincent accepts Anthony's arguments but objects that our sufferings in the ordinary prison will be greater than those we already experience. Anthony replies that our imagination often greatly exaggerates the pains of imprisonment. The real sufferings of imprisonment---to have less room to walk around in and to have the door shut upon us---are so slight that we should be ashamed even to think about them if we are called to suffer imprisonment for God's sake. Many monks and nuns, such as the Carthusians, Brigittines and Poor Clares, willingly accept these sufferings by living the enclosed life. [Anecdote of the woman (Dame Alice?) who visited a male prisoner (More?).] If we fear imprisonment at the hands of the Turks so much that we are prepared to renounce our faith, then we will find ourselves thrown into the prison of Hell, from which no man ever escapes. Joseph was in prison, as was Daniel. So also was St. John the Baptist. Christ himself suffered imprisonment for our sakes---the time of his imprisonment was not long but his sufferings in prison were very great. If we think of Christ's sufferings in prison we shall be ashamed to renounce our Christian faith out of fear of imprisonment.

12. Chaps. 21--22 (280/15--288/17)
37. Vincent declares (ch. 21) that if it were only a matter of imprisonment he would not shrink at suffering for the faith of Christ. However, the prospect being persecuted for the faith by the Turks and of suffering a shameful and painful death is so terrifying that it banishes all sense of comfort and makes us ready out of fear to renounce our faith. Anthony admits that the prospect is indeed fearful, but goes on to point out that there are great differences in individual responses to the fear of death. If our affections are sensual we will fear death much more than if they are spiritual. Anthony then goes on (ch.22) to consider death by itself. Those who lead worldly materialistic lives are loath to die. Some who are spiritual, like St. Paul, are both reluctant to die because they want to serve God's people, and also desire to die in order to be with God. However, except for the fear of a shameful or painful death, faithful Christians generally desire to die and be with God. [The Aesopian fable of how the snail got its shell.]


Persecution and Martyrdom (III:23--III:27)

13. Chaps. 23--24 (288/18--302/24)
38. Anthony then argues (ch.23) that the faithful wise man will not dread any death however painful since Christ himself and his saints died such glorious deaths. The death of every man who dies for the faith is glorious even if it seems shameful in the sight of men. If anyone is ashamed to die for Christ, then Christ will be ashamed of him on the day of judgement. The apostles counted it a great glory to suffer shame and be scourged for the sake of the name of Jesus. Christ our master and the maker of the whole world was not afraid for our sakes to suffer the most shameful and villainous death by worldly standards. Vincent responds (ch.24) that shame is one thing that can be mastered, but no one can master pain in the same way. Anthony replies that, though no one can deny the reality of pain, even reason alone often helps a man to bear the pain for the sake of some greater good. When faith and the help of God's grace are added to reason, it will make it easier for a man to bear a painful death here on earth for the sake of achieving everlasting life in Heaven. Vincent responds that though he cannot find any counter-arguments, nonetheless, he thinks that, if the Turks once set upon the Hungarians, they will be so fearful, that many will abandon their faith. [Vincent tells a pseudo-Aesopian fable about two great harts and a bitch.] Anthony replies that God is always ready to give his grace, if we desire it, to strengthen us in the midst of persecution. Vincent objects that every man is naturally afraid of pain and loath to endure it. Anthony reminds him that the pains of Hell are greater than anything we can endure here. Vincent replies that if we stand up for our faith in the time of persecution and afterwards forsake our faith under torture we are in a worse situation than if we had first forsaken our faith and after repented. Anthony responds that in the first case God can always give his grace for the man to repent again, whereas in the second case the man may very easily lack the grace to repent in the end. Vincent replies that the man in question may thus spare himself a violent and painful death. Anthony responds that death from sickness and disease can be just as painful and last much longer than the violent death that Vincent so fears. Natural death is also violent to anyone who is loath to die and dies against his will.

14. Chaps. 25--26 (302/19--311/28)
40. He who forsakes (ch.25) the faith of Christ out of fear of a violent death may not only suffer a natural death that is a thousand times more painful but will also be condemned to everlasting pain in Hell. Christ warns us not to fear those who can only kill the body, but rather to fear the one who can kill both body and soul in Hell. Anyone who considers this will not be afraid to endure the most terrible sufferings the Turks can inflict, rather than be cast into the pains of Hell. Vincent agrees that if we often think of these pains of Hell, that point alone will be enough to make many a martyr. Anthony then goes on (ch.26) to describe the joys of Heaven. If we considered the joys of Heaven, we would be much more willing to suffer for Christ in this world for the sake of winning heavenly joy. Unfortunately, our desires are so worldly that we are more moved by the fear of Hell than by the joys of Heaven. However, if we withdraw from the pleasures of this world, and pray and meditate inwardly, then God will give us a foretaste of those joys which in turn will give us strength to suffer for him. Those who cannot experience these joys for themselves should turn to the descriptions of Heaven in scriptures. We should have these words (describing the joys of Heaven) often in our hearts by reading, in our ears by hearing, in our mouths by rehearsing them, and in our hearts by meditating on them. God gives his martyrs who suffer for him many special joys and gifts. St. Paul counted all the tribulations he experienced in his journeys as short and momentary by comparison with the joys of Heaven. We cannot experience these joys unless we are joined to Christ, and Christ himself showed us the way when he entered Heaven through his Passion.

15. Chap. 27 (312/1--320/28)
41. Anthony then goes on to describe in detail the sufferings of Christ in his Passion, and suggests that, if we meditate on them, they will inflame our cold hearts with such love for Christ, that we will be happy to suffer death for his sake. Anthony cites the example of earthly lovers who are eager to give their lives for those they love without any hope of reward. Many ancient Romans also gladly gave their lives for their country. If we truly meditated on Heaven and Hell, and on Christ's death, then a great part of the fear and pain of death would disappear, and there would be as many martyrs in Hungary as there were in other countries of old. If the whole Turkish army stood on one side of us, and all the devils of Hell on the other, we would hardly remember the Turks at all. And if the Trinity also appeared before us, together with Mary and all the saints, we would not be afraid to suffer death at the hands of the Turks, and the devils as well. We should prepare ourselves with prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and not trust in our own strength, but rely on the help of God. We should resist the Devil's temptations, and not fear the Turks. The Turks are only the Devil's tormentors, he himself is the one who persecutes the Christian. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Our captain Christ is with us, and gives us strength to overcome the Devil. We should fight with the firebrand of charity, and remember Christ's painfull agony and his Passion, and not despair to seek his help. It is folly to flee from the death that will lead us to experience the joys of Heaven---the sufferings of this present time, as St. Paul says, are not worthy the glory that is to come. Anthony prays that the consideration of the joys of Heaven will banish all care from Vincent's heart and his own. And with this prayer he declares that his 'tale' is at an end. Anthony bids Vincent farewell, since he (Anthony) has become weary. Vincent thanks Anthony for all his labours and for the comfort Vincent has taken from Anthony's counsels. Vincent then expresses his intention to write down Anthony's counsels, not only in Hungarian, but also in German also. Anthony responds by wishing that Vincent had chosen to get counsel from some wiser man than himself. He ends by praying that God will breathe his Holy Spirit into the reader's breast, so that he may teach the reader inwardly in his heart. Anthony then prays that God will reunite them once more either here or in Heaven.


List of Figures from Dialogue of Comfort Chapter

The Structure of A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation
Book I
Preface 3/1--9/16 Introduction to Book I: Vincent comes to seek comfort from his uncle Anthony

Comfort A: The Book of Comfort
Comfort in Tribulation (I:1--I:12)
Chapters 1--2 9/17--14/4 On the insufficiency of the comforts of ancient moral philosophy, and on the necessity of having the foundation of faith
Chapters 3--5 14/5--19/7 The first source of comfort in tribulation is the desire to be comforted by God
Chapter 6 19/8--23/8 The desire to have tribulation taken away is not always sufficient, since God sometimes wills for us to suffer tribulation
Chapters 7--10 23/10--35/6 Anthony then claims that every tribulation
1. either comes to us through our own fault
2. or is sent by God as punishment for past sins
3. or else is sent to increase our patience and our merit
Chapters 11--12 35/7--40/13 Tribulation leads not only to the purging of our sins, but also to the increase of our heavenly reward

On the Necessity of Tribulation (I:13--I:20)
Chapters 13--15 40/14--47/27 Anthony claims that those who never experience tribulation in this life never experience comfort either. Vincent objects:
1. the Church prays for the health of princes and prelates
2. if health and prosperity are wrong why take medicine
3. Solomon, Job, and Abraham were all prosperous
4. many rich men are good and many poor people are evil
Chapter 16 48/1--56/12 Anthony answers Vincent's objections: worldly pleasure is not always unpleasant to God, nor tribulation always wholesome, but tribulation can take many forms---troubles that grieve the mind as well as bodily pains. Even the prosperous can experience many tribulations
Chapters 17--18 56/13--63/23 God often sends tribulation to make us pray to him for help
Chapters 19--20 64/1--77/26 The prayers of those suffering tribulation are far more pleasing to God than the ones of those who are prosperous. Tribulation is a gracious gift from God

Book II
Preface 78/1--82/4 Introduction of Book II: Vincent returns again after a month
Chapters 1--2 78/1--82/4 It is sometimes permissible to seek worldly comfort in tribulation, for example telling 'merry tales' (many occur in Comfort B)
Chapters 3--4 86/15--90/26 There are three kinds of tribulation:
1. those a man willingly takes upon himself (e.g. penance)
2. those he willingly suffers (to be the subject of Comfort B)
3. those he is unable to avoid (already dealt with in Book I)
Chapters 5--9 91/1--102/3 After dealing briefly with the first kind of tribulation (penance), Anthony subdivides the second kind into two:
1. temptation in which the devil tries to trap us (Book II)
2. persecution in which the devil fights us openly (Book III)

Comfort B: The Meditation on Psalm 90(91): 5--6
Book II
Chapters 10--11 102/4--106/26 Introduction of Psalm 90, leading up to verses 5--6 (ch.11):
... non timebis a timore nocturno / a sagitta volante in die, a negocio perambulante in tenebris, ab incursu & demonio meridiano: ... thow shalt not be aferd of the nightes feare, nor of the arrow fleyng in the day, nor of the bysynes walkyng about in the darknesses / nor of the incursion or invacion of the devill in the mydde day (105/18--23).

1.Chapters 12--16a 107/1--157/2 The first temptation: "The night's fear"
---Of Pusillanimity (ch. 13--14) [Mother Maud's Tale (114/14--120/6)]
---Of Suicide (ch. 15--16) [Vincent and Anthony imagine how they would counsel the "spiritual man" of Cassian's Collations who contemplated suicide (129/2--157/2)]
2.Chapter 16b 157/2--166/7 The second temptation: "The arrow flying in the day"
---Of the temptations of pride and prosperity
3.Chapter 17 166/8--187/29 The third temptation: "The business walking in the darkness"
---Of the temptation to evil business or frantic activity in the pursuit of worldly riches, and on the proper use of wealth [They break for dinner (186/26--187/28)]

Book III
Preface and Chapter 1 188/1--199/24 Introduction to Book III: News of impending Turkish invasion of Hungary
4.Chapters 2--4 200/1--205/26 The fourth temptation: "The incursion of the noonday devil"
---The distinguishing mark of this temptation is persecution for the faith
---This persecution brings two kinds of tribulations:
1. Those that affect the body
2. Those that affect the soul (dismissed immediately)
---There are two kinds of harm the body can take:
1. The loss of outward things (3:5--3:16)
2. Harm to the body itself (3:17--3:27)

Chapters 5--16 206/1--244/21 1. The loss of outward things
---loss of worldly possessions, offices, positions of authority, and lands [Of the flattery of the great prelate in Germany (Wolsey?) (212/22--218/4)] [Vincent play-acts the role of a great lord who feared to lose his possessions (229/10--237/28)]

Chapters 17--22 244/22--288/17 2a. Harm to the body itself
---Of bodily pain, hard labour, loss of liberty and imprisonment, and death [On the topos of "The Prison of This Earth" (255/9--270/12)]
Chapters 23--27 288/18--320/28 2b. Harm to the body itself (Continued)
---On painful and shameful death, persecution and martyrdom

Figures 6.2 and 6.3. The Structure of A Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation


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