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First shall you, good cousin, understand this: The natural wise men of this world, the old moral philosophers, laboured much in this matter. And many natural reasons have they written by which they might encourage men to set little by such goods—or such hurts, either—the going and coming of which are the matter and cause of tribulation. Such are the goods of fortune, riches, favour, friends, fame, worldly honour, and such other things: or of the body, as beauty, strength, agility, liveliness, and health. These things, as you know, coming to us, are matter of worldly wealth. And, taken from us by fortune or by force or the fear of losing them, they are 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 that the body should not feel what it feeleth, all the wit in the world cannot bring that about. But that the mind should not be grieved either with the pain that the body feeleth or with occasions of heaviness offered and given unto the soul itself, this thing the philosophers laboured very much about. And many goodly sayings have they toward strength and comfort against tribulation, exciting men to the full contempt of all worldly loss and the despising of sickness and all bodily grief, painful death and all.

Howbeit, indeed, for anything that ever I read in them, I never could yet find that those natural reasons were ever 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 not only is the chief comfort of all but without which also all other comforts are nothing. And that point is to refer 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 favour 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, which is the gracious aid and help of God to move, stir, and guide us forward in the referring of all our ghostly comfort—yea, and our worldly comfort too—all unto that heavenly end. And therefore, as I say, for the lack of these things, all their comforting 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. They may therefore be suffered to dwell among our apothecaries, if their medicines be made not 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 recipes. For unless we take this way with them, they shall not fail to do as many bold blind apothecaries do who, either for lucre or out of a foolish pride, give sick folk medicines of their own devising. For therewith do they kill up in corners many such simple folk as they find so foolish as to put their lives in the hands of such ignorant 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 may beseem them, we shall fetch the principal and effectual medicines against these diseases of tribulation from that high, great, and excellent physician without whom we could never be healed of our very deadly disease of damnation. For our necessity in that regard, the Spirit of God spiritually speaketh of himself to us, and biddeth us give him the honour of all our health. And therein he thus saith unto us: "Honour thou the physician, for him hath the high God ordained for thy necessity." Therefore let us pray that high physician, our blessed Saviour 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. And let us pray that, as he cured our mortal malady by this incomparable medicine, it may please him to send us and put in our minds at this time such medicines as may so comfort and strengthen us in his grace against the sickness and sorrows of tribulation, that 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.

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