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VINCENT: Who would have thought, O my good uncle, a few years past, that those in this country who would visit their friends lying in disease and sickness would come, as I do now, to seek and fetch comfort of them? Or who would have thought that in giving comfort to them they would 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 way here in Hungary of lifting up their hearts and putting them in good hope of life.

But now, my good uncle, the world is here waxed such, and so great perils appear here to fall at hand, that methinketh the greatest comfort a man can have is when he can see that he shall soon be gone. And we who are likely long to live here in wretchedness have need of some comforting counsel against tribulation to be given us by such as you, good uncle. For you have so long lived virtuously, and are so learned in the law of God that very few are better in this country. And you have had yourself good experience and assay of such things as we do now fear, as one who hath been taken prisoner in Turkey two times in your days, and is now likely to depart hence ere long.

But that may be your great comfort, good uncle, since you depart to God. But us of your kindred shall you leave here, a company of sorry comfortless orphans. For to all of us your good help, comfort, and counsel hath long been a great stay—not as an uncle to some, and to others as one further of kin, but as though to us all you had been a natural father.

ANTHONY: Mine own good cousin, I cannot much deny but what there is indeed, not only here in Hungary but also in almost all places in Christendom, such a customary manner of unchristian comforting. And in any sick man it doth more harm than good, by drawing him in time of sickness, with looking and longing for life, from the meditation of death, judgment, heaven, and hell, with which he should beset much of his time—even all his whole life in his best health. Yet is that manner of comfort to my mind more than mad when it is used to a man of mine age. For as we well know that a young man may die soon, so are we very sure that an old man cannot live long. And yet there is (as Tully saith) no man so old but that, for all that, he hopeth yet that he may live one year more, and of a frail folly delighteth to think thereon and comfort himself therewith. So other men's words of such comfort, adding more sticks to that fire, shall (in a manner) quite burn up the pleasant moisture that should most 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, as for your taking my departing from you so heavily (as that of one from whom you recognize, of your goodness, to have had here before help and comfort), would God I had done to you and to others half so much as I myself reckon it would have been my duty to do! But whensoever God may take me hence, to reckon yourselves then comfortless, as though your chief comfort stood in me—therein would you make, methinketh, a reckoning very much as though you 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, who (as he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants comfortless orphans, not even when he departed from his disciples by death. But he both sent them a comforter, as he had promised, the Holy Spirit of his Father and himself, and he also made them sure that to the world's end he would ever dwell with them himself. And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you 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, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?

VINCENT: O, my good uncle, even these selfsame words, with which you prove that because of God's own gracious presence we cannot be left comfortless, make me now feel and perceive how much comfort we shall miss when you are gone. For albeit, good uncle, that while you tell me this I cannot but grant it for true, yet if I had not now heard it from you, I would not have remembered it, nor would it have fallen to my mind. And moreover, as our tribulations shall increase in weight and number, so shall we need not only one such good word or twain, but a great heap of them, to stable and strengthen the walls of our hearts against the great surges of this tempestuous sea.

ANTHONY: Good cousin, trust well in God and he shall provide you outward teachers suitable for every time, or else shall himself sufficiently teach you inwardly.

VINCENT: Very well, good uncle, but yet if we would leave the seeking of outward learning, when we can have it, and look to be inwardly taught by God alone, then should be thereby tempt God and displease him. And since I now see the likelihood that when you are gone we shall be sore destitute of any other like you, therefore methinketh that God bindeth me of duty to pray you now, good uncle, in this short time that we have you, that I may learn of you such plenty of good counsel and comfort, 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, 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 are not ignorant, good uncle, what heaps of heaviness have of late fallen among us already, with which some of our poor family are fallen into such dumps that scantly can any such comfort as my poor wit can give them at all assuage their sorrow. And now, since these tidings have come hither, so hot with the great Turk's enterprise into these parts here, we can scantly talk nor think of anything else than his might and our danger. 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 thence, far from home, and there severing the couples and the kindred asunder, every one far from the other, some kept in thraldom and some kept in prison and some for a triumph tormented and killed in his presence; then, sending his people hither and his false faith too, so that such as are here and still remain shall either both lose all and be lost too, or be forced to forsake the faith of our Saviour Christ and fall to the false sect of Mahomet. And yet—that which we fear more than all the rest—no small part of our own folk who dwell even here about us are, we fear, falling to him or already confederated with him. If this be so, it may haply keep this quarter from the Turk's invasion. But then shall they that turn to his law leave all their neighbours nothing, but shall have our goods given them and our bodies too, unless we turn as they do and forsake our Saviour 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 a more cruel death by our own countrymen at home than if we were taken hence and carried into Turkey. These fearful heaps of peril lie so heavy at our hearts, since we know not into which we shall fortune to fall and therefore fear all the worst, that (as our Saviour prophesied of the people of Jerusalem) many among us wish 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—some of which, as you know, our house hath already, and the rest of which we stand in dread of—give us, while God lendeth you to us, such plenty of your comforting counsel as I may write and keep with us, to stay us when God shall call you hence.

ANTHONY: Ah, my good cousin, this is a heavy hearing. And just as we who dwell here in this part now sorely fear that thing which a few years ago we feared not at all, so I suspect that ere long they shall fear it as much who now think themselves very sure because they dwell further off.

Greece feared not the Turk when I was born, and within a while afterward that whole empire was his. The great Sultan of Syria thought himself more than his match, and long since you were born hath he that empire too. Then hath he taken Belgrade, the fortress of this realm. And since that hath he destroyed our noble young goodly king, and now two of them strive for us—our Lord send the grace that the third dog carry not away the bone from them both! What of the noble strong city of Rhodes, the winning of which he counted as a victory against the whole body of Christendom, since all Christendom was not able to defend that strong town against him? Howbeit, if the princes of Christendom everywhere would, where there was need, have set to their hands in time, the Turk would never have taken any one of all those places. But partly because of dissensions fallen among ourselves, and partly because no man careth what harm other folk feel, but each part suffereth the other to shift for itself, the Turk has in a few years wonderfully increased and Christendom on the other hand very sorely decayed. And all this is worked by our wickedness, with which God is not content.

But now, whereas you desire of me some plenty of comforting things, which you may put in remembrance, to comfort your company with—verily, in the rehearsing and heaping of your manifold fears, I myself began to feel that there would be much need, against so many troubles, of many comforting counsels. For surely, a little before you came, as I devised with myself upon the Turk's coming, it happened that my mind fell suddenly from that to devising upon my own departing. Now, albeit that I fully put my trust in God and hope to be a saved soul by his mercy, yet no man is here so sure that without revelation he may stand clean out of dread. So I bethought me also upon the pain of hell, and afterward, then, I bethought me upon the Turk again. And at first methought his terror nothing, when I compared with it the joyful hope of heaven. Then I compared it on the other hand with the fearful dread of hell, casting therein in my mind those terrible fiendish tormentors, with the deep consideration of that furious endless fire. And methought that if the Turk with his whole host, and all his trumpets and timbrels too, were to come to my chamber door and kill me in my bed, in respect of the other reckoning I would regard him not a rush. And yet, when I now heard your lamentable words, laying forth as though it were present before my face that heap of heavy sorrowful tribulations that (besides those that are already befallen) are in short space likely to follow, I waxed myself suddenly somewhat dismayed. And therefore I well approve your request in this behalf, since you wish to have a store of comfort beforehand, ready by you to resort to, and to lay up in your heart as a remedy against the poison of all desperate dread that might arise from occasion of sore tribulation. And I shall be glad, as my poor wit shall 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.

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